DES MOINES, Iowa — A study released Wednesday by the U.S. Agriculture Department into the disparity between cattle prices paid to ranchers and the higher prices earned by meat processors offers more details about the factors that have led to the situation.
The 20-page analysis by the USDA explains how after a 2019 fire at a Tyson Foods beef plant in Holcomb, Kansas, and this year’s temporary closure of slaughterhouses amid the coronavirus pandemic, ranchers saw cattle prices drop while concerns about meat scarcity caused prices at grocery stores to rise.
Some members of Congress have called for an investigation into possible violations of the Packers and Stockyard Act, which is designed to protect ranchers and consumers. They have noted increasing consolidation within the beef industry, which now is largely controlled by four giant processing companies.
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