Grassley calls for release of Packers and Stockyards finds on Tyson fire
- Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that the Packers and Stockyards Division publicly release findings from it’s investigation into beef pricing margins following the fire at Tyson’s processing plant in Holcomb, KS.
- Senator Grassley explains in the letter that it has almost been a year since USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division launched an investigation into beef pricing margins following the plant fire, and cattle producers are still waiting for results from this investigation.
- If no report is issued by August 9th, 2020, a year after the fire, Senator Grassley will be asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation into the reporting processes of the Packers and Stockyards Division to see if additional authority or resources are needed to properly conduct oversight of processing facilities.
USCA sends letter to congressional leaders on Covid-19 relief
- On Wednesday, June 10th, 2020, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) sent a letter to Congressional leaders expressing their concerns with the current framework of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
- The letter also requested additional funding for U.S. cattle producers in the next coronavirus relief package.
- USCA recommended the following changes:
- Extend the current timeframe for payment eligibility to include all sales of eligible livestock between January 15th, 2020, to May 15th, 2020. This change would include April and May when producers saw the markets drop to their lowest.
- As written, CFAP covers only 25% of the drop in the cattle inventory. Instead, the program should cover actual losses, or a percentage high enough to capture the average drop in cattle inventory due to Covid-19.
- The $250,000 payment limits put in place stifle the program’s ability to address actual losses, especially for small and mid-sized producers.
Beef packers ask court to throw out antitrust lawsuit
- On Monday, lawyers representing the four largest U.S. beef packers told a federal court that the Justice Department’s probe into the beef market doesn’t justify civil antitrust lawsuits filed by cattle ranchers, who are accusing meatpackers of price fixing to lower cattle prices.
- The meatpackers are asking the district judge in Minnesota to throw out the cases, which they say are based on “speculation and gossip.”
- R-Calf and others filed suit last year, alleging antitrust violations and seeking damages for ranchers.
- According to the claims, the four beef packers started coordinating in 2015 to reduce the number of cattle they slaughtered and the animals they bought directly from ranchers in the cash market, which resulted in depressed cattle prices.
Boxed beef prices
- Choice boxed beef: $236.06 (-10.94)
- Select boxed beef: $222.84 (-5.11)