Just one day after First District Congressman James Comer sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for relief for cattle farmers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency announced yesterday plans to expand an existing investigation into beef price fixing to include the negative effects of the Coronavirus on cattle prices.
In 2019, the USDA announced an investigation into beef pricing margins to review potential evidence of price manipulation, collusion or restrictions on competition. Most recently, retailers and meat packers had seen increased profits, while farmers have seen a decrease in the value of their cattle. This issue has been exacerbated due to COVID-19, as cattle prices continue to decline even at a time of strong retail demand for beef.
Comer sent a letter earlier this week to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking the agency to examine any potential market manipulation hurting cattle farmers.
Yesterday, Congressman Comer said the issue is very serious based on conversations he has had with Kentucky cattle farmers. He thanked the federal agency for agreeing to look into the matter on behalf of Kentucky cattle farmers.