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WSGA calls for DOJ Investigation

Wyoming Stock Growers Association join 22 other state cattle associations in call for investigation into beef pricing margins

 

April 22, 2020



This week, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) joined with 22 other state cattle associations across America in sending a letter to U. S. Attorney General William Barr expressing “the need for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work with more intent and with sharper timelines with the USDA Packers and Stockyards Division regarding an investigation of beef pricing margins.” WSGA requested that “the evidence of any fraudulent business practices within the meatpacking industry be identified quickly and rectified immediately.”

Two recent market situations prompted the call for this investigation. In both cases, the outcome was “windfall profits for the beef packing industry while the production sector dealt with multi-year market-low prices for calves, yearlings, and fed cattle.”

As fears of the COVID-19 pandemic spread during the month of March, boxed beef prices rose over 16 percent. During that same time frame, live fed cattle prices declined by 12 percent and the April cattle futures contract declined by over 30 percent.

In August 2019, following a fire that shut down Tyson’s Holcomb Kansas beef harvest facility, while increased production at other plants maintained the level of harvest, fed cattle prices dropped from $150-$200 per head.

In commenting on this significant action by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, President Scott Sims (McFadden) stated, “The system is broken. Ranchers pride themselves on their independence and the ability to be successful by their own creativity and smart decisions. All we want is to be able to market livestock on a fair playing field. Controlling expenses is very important but a fair marketing system is vitally important as well. That is why this investigation is so important to bring out any illegal practices and have them corrected. Our actions today may have a profound effect on the future of our livestock industry.”

The Association’s acknowledge that USDA had initiated an investigation following the Holcombe fire. That investigation was never concluded and has now been expanded to include the current price discrepancies. However, WSGA and the other associations feel that a separate investigation by the Department of Justice is now warranted, citing the undue financial burden on all segments of the live cattle industry and on rural America.

 

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