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D.C. News...

published: September 6th 2019

Secretary Perdue asks Packers and Stockyards to investigate recent beef pricing margins

Washington, D.C.--U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement re-garding the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kan-sas:
    “As part of our continued efforts to monitor the impact of the fire at the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kansas, I have directed USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division to launch an investigation into recent beef pricing margins to determine if there is any evidence of price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition or other unfair practices. If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action. USDA remains in close communication with plant management and other stakeholders to understand the fire’s impact to industry. 
    I have spent this summer visiting with cattle ranchers across the country, and I know this is a difficult time for the industry as a whole. USDA is committed to ensuring support is available to ranchers who work hard to the feed the United States and the world.”
    Cattle prices have tanked because the fire temporarily eliminated a key buyer of livestock. Beef producers have worried that meat packers would take advantage of the situation by dropping their offering prices. 
    During this same time period, beef prices climbed as buyers for restaurants, food service companies and grocery chains scrambled for meat. 
    Profit margins for the packers are above $400 per head of cattle slaughtered, up from around $150 before the fire and well above the previous record of $308, according to Denver-based livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge. com. 
    The USDA will investigate whether there is evidence of price manipulation, collusion or other unfair practices, according to a statement. 
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston issued the following statement regarding U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's call for an investigation into cattle markets.
    "The announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue demonstrates the government’s understanding of the ex-treme strain placed on the cattle industry by the plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas.
    "We encourage USDA to look at all aspects of the beef supply chain and to utilize internal and external expertise in this investigation. We believe it adds transparency that will help build confidence in the markets among cattlemen and women."

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