More local meat processing farms would lower beef costs

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo – Missouri Senator Josh Hawley says four companies process 85 percent of all beef in the United States, and he’s calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an antitrust investigation into the meatpacking industry. He made his comments during a Wednesday interview with Missourinet, saying farmers need help.

“Right now, the meatpacking industry has become too consolidated,” Hawley says. “We’ve got just one or two or three companies who control the whole thing.”

Traves Merrick owns a large farm in Miller, MO, and is the Region 7 Vice President for the Missouri Cattleman’s Association. He says he has plenty of cattle, but no one to sell them to.

Merrick says he doesn’t know why boxed beef is so expensive when the price for cattle is at a low. Merrick says he has to maintain his cattle until the rates go back up, but the prices for upkeep is making him lose profits.

Local farmers say there is still “tons of beef in the field”

Merrick believes if there were more local processing farms here in Missouri, it would help relieve the need to rely on the big four companies, and it would help the consumer know they are buying completely local products.

The four companies Hawley mentions are:

  • Tyson Foods
  • Cargill
  • JBS
  • Smithfield Foods

Hawley is teaming up with U.S Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D- Wisconsin)to call on the FTC to “ask probing questions” about the major meatpacking firms’ conduct, pricing and contracting.

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