Lawmakers are taking a critical look at consolidation in the meat industry in the wake of the cyberattack against JBS USA.
That incident shut down much of the company’s operations for a day, although JBS said June 3 that operations were back to normal. But the attack, along with shutdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, have drawn attention to the degree of consolidation in meat and poultry processing, the Wall Street Journal reports.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime advocate for farmers, is among the critics. “If you had 10 companies instead of four, or 20 companies instead of four, we’d be less vulnerable if one of them was hacked,” he told the Journal.
Grassley has introduced legislation that would require beef processors to make at least half their purchases on the open market. The contract purchasing that most of them depend on is one-sided in their favor, Grassley and other lawmakers say. Other legislation would set minimum cash prices for cattle and increase price reporting requirements.