In a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem joined with Governors from Nebraska, Oklahoma and Iowa to urge the Justice Department to continue their investigation into serious allegations of anticompetitive behavior in the meatpacking industry.
“Perhaps no person embodies the independent and untamable spirit of the United States better than the cattle producer,” the governors wrote to U.S. Attorney General Garland. “But this way of life is under threat. Decades of consolidation in meatpacking has significantly limited the options that producers have to market their cattle and has created a situation where one segment of the beef industry has near total control over the entire market. We urge you to continue to investigate this matter with the urgency it calls for.”
In May 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the nation’s four largest meatpackers whose anticompetitive behavior, the governors say is threatening cattle producers.
As outlined in the letter, the price of cattle has decreased in recent years while the price of boxed beef has skyrocketed. The result is higher prices for consumers at the grocery store and declining profit margins for cattle producers.
“The loss of the independent cattle producer would devastate not only ranching families and the rural communities they support, but the very health and spirit of our nation,” the governors emphasized. “Producers and consumers deserve fairness and transparency now more than ever.”
On Capitol Hill, Senators and Representatives have sent their own letter to the Attorney General Garland pushing for the investigation. Demands have also been made to hold hearings in Congress on the cattle market. North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer has asked the Senate Agriculture Committee to take up the issue of price transparency and competition in the packing sector. South Dakota Senator John Thune and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley have called upon the Senate Judiciary Committee told hold a hearing on potential antitrust law violations by the Big 4 Packers.