On Wednesday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued an investigation into the possible cattle and beef market collusion following the recent Tyson Foods slaughterhouse fire in Holcomb, Kansas.
Scott Blubaugh, AFR/OFU Cooperative President, said he applauds Secretary Perdue for stepping up and taking immediate action on behalf of both ranchers and consumers.
“Thank you Secretary Perdue for your quick response to the possible unfair market manipulations,” Blubaugh said.
Blubaugh said he is pleased the Secretary of Agriculture is using his authority within the Packers and Stockyards Act.
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson ordered an investigation into the entire food system after public outcry from American farmers and the suspicion of market manipulation from the five largest meatpackers during that time. As a result, the investigation confirmed the five packers were indeed manipulating the market and defrauding consumers and farmers, and the P&S Act was made into a law in 1921.
Today, 102 years after President Wilson called for the investigation, Blubaugh said four companies now control 84 percent of the beef market, making an unfair fight for cattle producers and consumers.
Blubaugh said he calls on President Trump to order a similar investigation into America’s food system and protect the American consumer from artificial high prices and protect farmers and ranchers from unfair low market prices.
“Ultimately, we need President Trump to be our hero and protect the consumers, farmers and ranchers in the Heartland of America,” Blubaugh said.
In addition to the P&S Act, AFR/OFU Cooperative supports measures such as the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act, which limits agribusiness mergers, including meat packers, from further establishing an unfair marketplace.
After the Tyson fire, the combination of increased beef prices and lower live cattle prices improved profit margins for beef packers above $300 per head of cattle slaughtered, according to a press release by Drovers.
“These price margins are very discouraging for hardworking cattle ranchers,” Blubaugh said. “There are tough times right now in all of agriculture with the worldwide trade wars, and then to add perceived market collusion in the mix, it is more than ranchers can financially bare.”
Blubaugh said the AFR/OFU Cooperative will continue to fight for Oklahoma cattlemen and women against unfair markets.