States to Feds: Enforce Antitrust in Meat Industry

Dec. 23, 2021
The attorneys general of 16 states have signed a letter urging stricter enforcement of antitrust laws in the meat and poultry processing industry.

The attorneys general of 16 states have signed a letter urging stricter enforcement of antitrust laws in the meat and poultry processing industry.

The Dec. 21 letter, addressed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, lays out the degree of concentration in the meat and poultry processing industry and calls for solutions. It asks the federal government to make greater use of the Packers and Stockyards Act, a law passed in 1921 to combat monopoly in the meat industry.

“To that end, USDA should consider using funds appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to establish a grant that state antitrust enforcers could avail themselves of for the purpose of investigating and bringing actions in agricultural markets.” the letter says.

Other remedies suggested by the four-page letter include: mandating a minimum percentage of cattle to be sold on the spot market, as opposed to direct contract sales to processors; cracking down on sharing price information through third-party data services; and establishing an “Agricultural Markets Integrity Working Group” to coordinate antitrust enforcement activities among state and federal law agencies.

The letter was signed by the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

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