USDA investigates Beef and Cattle Price Spread
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue directed USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to investigate the Tyson plant closing’s impacts on the beef and cattle markets. This investigation was later expanded to include the impacts of COVID-19 on these markets.
The purpose of this investigation is to examine whether any regulated entities violated the Packers and Stockyards Act by taking advantage of the disruptions through price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition or other unfair practices. On Wednesday, USDA released the Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report. Prepared by AMS in coordination with USDA’s office of the chief economist, the report summarizes market conditions in the beef and cattle markets before and after the events and analyzes the events through an economic lens. This report does not examine potential violations of the PSA because that investigation into potential violations is ongoing, limiting AMS’ ability to publicly report on it. In addition to the economic analysis portion, the report also delves into some other topics as well as solutions that have been discussed widely by industry in the aftermath of these events.