The Biden administration in the US has announced new measures aimed at bringing greater transparency and fairness to the meat industry. These include a review of the 100-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act ,with a view to further increasing transparency and protecting producers from over-concentration in processing.
It also released a fair and competitive markets report, which focuses on the concentration of ownership in the meat processing sector.
Initiatives to encourage new entrants to processing have been announced previously as has the collaboration with the justice department to enforce antitrust laws vigorously.
This follows the resolution introduced by Senators Warren and Rounds to request the Federal Trade Commission to investigate beef processors for potential price fixing. This was met with forceful pushback from the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) the trade association representing US meat factories.
On the issue of factory workers’ pay, it pointed out that hourly wages have increased from $14.60 (€13.64) per hour to $22 (€20.56) per hour over the past three years. In response to the fact that farmers’ share of consumer spend on beef has fallen from 60% 50 years ago to 39% at present, NAMI responded that the factory share was 13.5% the lowest in the chain.
In relation to the exit of farmers from the business, NAMI rejected the senators’ claim that 17,000 were exiting on average every year.