WASHINGTON — In a White House Press briefing on Wednesday, Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council (NEC) told reporters that the Biden Administration was ready to address both supply-chain issues and a lack of competition in the meat-processing arena.
Joined on stage by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deese outlined how the Executive Branch would take bold action to enforce the antitrust laws, boost competition in meat-processing, and push back on pandemic profiteering that is hurting consumers, farmers, and ranchers across the country.
With half of the recent increases in grocery store prices coming in the form of hikes in beef, pork, and poultry, Vilsack explained how four large companies control the majority of the market for each of these three products, and how these companies have been raising prices while generating record profits during the pandemic.
In less than one year, prices for beef have increased by 14 percent, pork by 12 percent, and poultry by nearly 7 percent, all while livestock producers sell many of their animals at a loss.
USDA announced a more robust enforcement policy and new efforts to strengthen Packers and Stockyards Act rules, to reign in unfair trade practices.
USDA is creating more transparency, with new market reports on what beef-processors pay, as well as new rules designed to ensure consumers get what they pay for when meat is labeled “Product of USA”.
USDA will also invest $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support new competitive entrants to expand local and regional meat and poultry processing capacity, providing grants, loans, and technical assistance to create new meat and poultry processing capacity that will provide farmers and ranchers access to more choices in local and regional food systems.
(SOURCE: All Ag News)