Senate Hearing on Cattle Markets
The COVID-19 pandemic made clear that the US food supply chain should be fortified against future disruptions.
But for many ranchers, the consolidation of the meatpacking industry plays a large role in the resilience of both their businesses and the food supply chain.
Justin Tupper, Vice President of the US Cattlemen's Association testified before a Senate Ag Committee hearing Examining Markets, Transparency, and Prices from Cattle Producer to Consumer.
He believes the big 4 packing houses no longer compete for cattle and can push down prices.
Tupper:” They talk about efficiency. So many times today the packer does not even send a buyer out to any of those feed yards especially the smaller ones... I can’t tell you how many producers tell me, they can’t even get one of the other packers to come bid.”
Kansas Angus cattle rancher Mark Gardiner told the hearing that there are too many cattle and too little processing capacity
Applied Sciences Professor at the University of Missouri, Dr. Mary Hendrickson told senators as they continue to investigate meat prices they should look at who has the power to make decisions.
Hendrickson:” Those decisions are often controlled within the boards of directors, within the managers of these large food firms.”
The North American Meat Institute, which represents meat companies, wasn't present for the hearing. It says it will submit written testimony to show that market fundamentals drive the cattle and beef markets.