Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

USDA Report on Beef Prices First Step Toward Fairer Markets

Podcasts / Newsline July 23, 2020

A report by the Department of Agriculture marks the first step towards fairer cattle markets. Micheal Clements tells us the USDA is investigating why consumers are paying higher prices for meat while farmers and ranchers are being paid less.

Clements: The Department of Agriculture this week released an update on its investigation of cattle markets. American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director Scott Bennett says the report examines the market price disparities.

Bennett: In the report, USDA outlines exactly what has happened in the volatile cattle markets since the Holcomb fire in August of 2019, and the volatilities due to COVID-19. In addition to the report, there’s some policy recommendations that USDA feels could be addressed both administratively and legislatively to further reduce the volatility in the cattle market.

Clements: Bennett says Farm Bureau is reviewing the USDA policy recommendations.

Bennett: We are analyzing these policy recommendations and certainly hope to have a robust discussion not only with legislators, but the administration on exactly what we can do to make sure that these markets are not as volatile and they are fair for our cattle producers.

Clements: The USDA investigation is ongoing, and Bennett says Farm Bureau is hopeful the investigation will lead to fair cattle markets.

Bennett: We understand that the meatpacking industry is consolidated into four major packers that represent 80 to 85 percent of the weekly kill. We understand that they are a part of our supply chain. However, we need to work for the producer and increase their leverage that they have in order to have fair cattle markets.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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