State Officials Send Letter To US AG Regarding Cattle Price Fixing

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles and Attorney General Daniel Cameron sent a joint letter Sunday to U.S. Attorney General William Barr asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate possible anti-competitive practices in the beef packing sector.

The letter notes that, despite steady consumer demand for beef, the prices paid to Kentucky’s cattle producers have declined, suggesting the presence of possible market manipulation and other anti-competitive practices. As a result, Kentucky consumers are paying more for beef while hardworking Kentucky farmers are making less.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions at meat processing plants and created shortages nationwide. With only four beef processors controlling 80 percent of the American market, such disruptions further exacerbate pre-existing disparities between the price of live cattle and the wholesale price of beef.

In the letter, Commissioner Quarles and Attorney General Cameron ask DOJ to use the department’s investigatory resources to conduct an in-depth study of the current economic realities within the cattle industry to determine if anti-competitive practices are being used. Both Quarles and Cameron offer DOJ the resources of their respective offices to assist with such an investigation on behalf of Kentucky consumers.