USDA Provides Cattle Market Investigation Update

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday released a report on its ongoing boxed beef and fed cattle price spread investigation. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the closure of the Tyson beef packing plant following a fire at the facility in Holcomb, Kansas, and the COVID-19 pandemic, “clearly disrupted the markets and processing systems responsible for the production and sale of U.S. beef.” The report also discusses several policy considerations in light of the desire by many market participants for improved price discovery, reinvigorated competition, and a more transparent relationship between the prices for live cattle and the resulting products. The report does not examine potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. However, USDA staff have maintained a cooperative relationship with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division staff and have discussed allegations of anticompetitive practices in the meatpacking industry. Should USDA find a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act, it is authorized to report the violation to DOJ for prosecution.