White House Reports on Meat Packing Consolidation
A new report from the White House says consolidation in the meatpacking industry has caused consumers to pay more for our burgers and sausages, but that doesn’t mean higher pay for livestock producers.
Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council told reporters that Americans are actually paying less in recent months for fruit and vegetables and eggs but are spending a lot more for poultry and are paying double-digit increases for beef and pork.
Deese: “ The thing that is striking is that across beef, poultry, and pork, significant consolidation in those industries. Anywhere from 55% to 85% of the market is controlled by the top 4 producers in those industries. When you see that level of consolidation and a rise in prices, it raises a concern about pandemic profiteering, about companies that are driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers at the grocery store and also isn’t benefitting the producers, the farmers, and the ranchers that are growing the product.”
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the USDA wants farmers to get a fair price for their livestock and consumers to get a fair price at the store.
To that end, Vilsack says the agency’s focus is on 4 areas; strengthening the current regulatory system under the Packers and Stockyards Act, improving price discovery in the market, clarifying what packages actually contain when labeled
“ Product of the US,” and expanding processing capacity. That last point includes resources to keep small processors in business.