DOJ investigating why consumers are paying record prices for beef during pandemic: report
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Image via screengrab.

On Monday, Politico reported that the Justice Department and Agriculture Department are looking into what they consider to be suspicious price increases of beef for American consumers — on the suspicion that the recent spike in prices may be a result of price-fixing.

"Supermarket customers are paying more for beef than they have in decades during the coronavirus pandemic," reported Leah Nylen and Liz Crampton. "But at the same time, the companies that process the meat for sale are paying farmers and ranchers staggeringly low prices for cattle."

"The Department of Justice is looking at the four largest U.S. meatpackers — Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Cargill — which collectively control about 85 percent of the U.S. market for the slaughter and packaging of beef, according to a person with knowledge of the probe," said the report. "The USDA is also investigating the beef price fluctuations, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has confirmed."

“It’s evidence that something isn’t right in the industry,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has warned about corporate consolidation in the meatpacking industry and called for an investigation into cattle markets in April.

"Meatpackers say beef prices have spiked during the pandemic because plants are running at lower capacity as workers fall ill, so less meat is making its way to shelves," continued the report. "The four companies didn’t respond to requests for comment about the probes."

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