WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, joined Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) and 17 of her Senate colleagues in writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that the department investigate potential anticompetitive activities in the highly concentrated beef packing sector.

“The lack of competition in the meatpacking industry has resulted in a vulnerable beef supply chain, which the current national emergency has destabilized further,” the senators wrote. “Recent pricing discrepancies between fed cattle and boxed beef are pushing cattle producers and feeders to the brink, adding to the longstanding concerns stemming from the state of competition among beef packers. Since February, we have seen live cattle prices slump by more than 18 percent, while wholesale beef prices have increased by as much as 115 percent during the same period.”

Along with Ernst and Fischer, the letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Doug Jones (D-AL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tina Smith (D-MN), and John Thune (R-SD).

Read the full letter here.

Background:

Ernst welcomed the president’s action to protect workers, support the supply chain, and help livestock producers.

In addition, Ernst has written a letter to Vice President Mike Pence calling on the administration to ensure the U.S. maintains a strong, secure food supply chain. 

Ernst has also urged the administration to eliminate payment limits for Iowa’s livestock, dairy, and specialty crop producers, so they can get the relief they need during COVID-19. 

In addition, Ernst successfully pushed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure Iowa’s farmers are able to access Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). In the bipartisan package there is also increased funding for the EIDL program – which will help businesses, and now farmers, across Iowa.

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