Senator Tina Smith is urging the Department of Justice to examine whether the four largest beef processing companies in the US are violating antitrust laws and principles of fair competition, something she says is impacting Minnesota producers.
“So what happens then is when Minnesota cattle producers go to market they are getting squeezed. Farmers are making pennies on the dollar and of course, consumers end up paying the price too.”
These companies control over 80% of the processing market in today’s economy and operate 18 of the top 20 beef slaughter facilities in the country.
“From our perspective, the anticompetitive practices occurring in the industry today are unambiguous and either our antitrust laws are not being enforced or they are not capable of addressing the apparent oligopoly that so plainly exists,” reads the letter, dated May 27. “This is where we need to work together.”
Minnesota ranks tenth in its production of beef, making US$2 billion in annual sales, according to Minnesota Department of Agriculture figures.
Bloomberg News last June reported that the Justice Department had already issued subpoenas to the four meatpacking companies: Tyson Foods, JBS SA, Minnesota-based Cargill, and National Beef. Altogether, the four companies control more than 80% of the US beef processing market.
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