Meat Institute responds to calls for Justice Department investigation
Reacting to calls Monday by Republican members of Congress and livestock and farm groups for a Justice Department investigation into the four biggest meatpackers, the North American Meat Institute on Tuesday defended its members against the allegations of wrong-doing.
“The members of the Meat Institute and their livestock suppliers benefit from a fair and competitive market,” Sarah Little, a spokeswoman for the Meat Institute, said in an email to The Hagstrom Report.
Little continued, “In July 2020, USDA analyzed the effects of the 2019 Holcomb [Kan.] facility fire and the pandemic, finding no wrong-doing and confirming the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events.
“Despite the pandemic’s challenges, the market is competitive and growing. Since October 2020, there have been several announcements of investments to build new packing facilities or expand capacity at existing plants that would increase cattle slaughter capacity by about 4%, including new independent, local, and regional packers.
“In fact, through this weekend, Saturday slaughter for the year was 51% above last year and 65% over 2019.
“Meat and poultry companies are utilizing capacity to the best of their abilities with COVID protocol constraints still in place and despite significant labor challenges that existed prior to – and have been exacerbated by – COVID. Labor is not addressed in the statement but it is, and is likely to remain, a significant factor that affects utilization of production; and is also a factor that will challenge new small and medium sized facilities entering the market.
“The Meat Institute will continue to work with livestock producer organizations to ensure proposed changes to the beef markets do not have unintended consequences for producers and consumers.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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