Ranchers and cattlemen have some beef with U.S. meatpackers. They claim that the meatpackers are purposefully driving down the price the cattle raisers get for their beef. In 2015, meatpackers started to pay ranchers less for their cattle. It would make sense then, that the price of ribeye in the supermarket would also drop around that time. But that didn’t happen.
According to allegations in a lawsuit led by Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, it’s because the four biggest meatpacking companies conspired to artificially lower the prices they pay cattle raisers. The suit targets the ‘big four – Tyson, National Beef, JBS and Cargill and other meatpackers.
Joe Fassler has been writing about this for The New Food Economy, where he’s the features editor.
“The suit says that they used a variety of means to actually make it harder for ranchers to sell their beef to feedlots,” Fassler says.
The “elephant in the room,” as Fassler puts it, is that just four companies process over 80% of the beef in the U.S. This ,of course gives those companies great economic power that they can use to influence the price that ranchers will take for their beef.
Fassler says that the plaintiffs feel as if the meatpackers are colluding to lower beef prices and engaging in “monopolistic” behavior. However, Tyson Foods told The New Food Economy that they deny those claims.
Written by Morgan Kuehler.