The USDA says it is launching an investigation into recent beef pricing margins in the wake of the Kansas beef plant fire.
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kansas.
“As part of our continued efforts to monitor the impact of the fire at the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kan., 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.”
USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach tells Brownfield the disparity between boxed beef and live cattle prices is a concern.
“We’ve seen more cattle go through the harvest process in the last two weeks than we saw previous to the Kansas fire. So that shows me that the industry is figuring out how to adapt and move cattle around,” Ibach says. “But that doesn’t negate the fact that we’ve seen beef prices go up at the same time we’ve seen live cattle or fed cattle prices go down.”
Ibach says if any unfair practices are detected, USDA will take quick enforcement action.
“We will go through and enforce our statutes, and notify the Department of Justice if necessary,” he says.
Ibach says the investigation will take some time. He would not say if they have identified any specific illegal activities.
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