The proposal, which calls on the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 (FTC Act), would look into activities by Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS SA and National Beef Packing Co.
“The top-four beef packers increased their market share from 32% to 85% in the past three decades. At the same time, each year since 1980, an average of nearly 17,000 cattle ranchers have gone out of business,” said the senators as part of the Bipartisan Beef-Packing Investigation Resolution.
The FTC Act allows the President or Congress to investigate and report the facts relating to any alleged violations of the antitrust acts by any corporation within one year but has not been utilised by Congress since the Great Depression when it directed the FTC to investigate the flour industry and companies such as American Tobacco.
President Biden used the legislation to call for an investigation into the oil and gas industries in November 2021.
The senators’ resolution directs the FTC to report to Congress within one year on the extent of anticompetitive practices and violations of antitrust law in the beef-packing industry, including price fixing, anti-competitive acquisitions, dominance of supply chains and monopolisation.
According to a statement from the resolution, “American ranchers today receive approximately 39 cents of every dollar a consumer spends on beef, compared to the 60 cents they received 50 years ago, and between 2015 and 2018 the spread between the cost of wholesale beef and the price paid to ranchers increased by 60%, while the top beef packers enjoyed record profits.”