Investigation launched into US cattle industry due to price disparities

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 2:23 PM CDT
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The USDA Packers and Stockyards Division launched an investigation into the U.S. cattle industry earlier this month, after those in the agriculture industry were seeing price disparities between box and live beef during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state cattlemen's associations have reached out the Department of Justice for help as cattle prices continue to fall.

The associations are asking in their letter to the Department of Justice that any evidence of fraudulent business practices within the meatpacking industry be identified quickly and rectified immediately.

North Dakota Stockman's Association President Dan Rorvig said the cattle industry is seeing similar disparities it experienced after a fire at Tyson's Holcomb, Kansas, beef harvesting plant in August of 2019.

Higher prices of beef at the retail level and lower cattle prices at the livestock producer level.

The President says the uncertainty a crisis can cause is just one of the reasons these type discrepancies can happen.

Rorvig said, “We've seen packer margins from five to $600 per head while our livestock producers are losing you know, two to $400 a head. So what we feel is a tremendous inequity there that we just question the validity of it."

Rorvig says he hasn't heard anything back from the Department of Justice but he says he is hoping they'll get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

Rorvig says it's crucial to get the economy up and running again to alleviate some of the uncertainty people have about where the cattle market is going.