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House Oversight looking into meat companies' pricing, profits

Getty Images Inflation-Meat-Grocery.jpeg
Legislative Watch: Recent price hike questions; don't pass buck on inflation; Prop 12 on hold; USDA Outlook Forum.

The House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy chairman is seeking information from Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Seaboard Foods on the reasons for the recent price increases for meat. 

Subcommittee chairman Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in a letter to each of the companies said, "While some companies may claim that the high prices feeding these outsized profits are explained by higher input costs, earnings data tells a different story.

"I am deeply concerned meat processing conglomerates may have engaged in predatory business practices, at the expense of consumers, during the pandemic."

The letter is asking for company documents, including research, analyses, policies, and internal and external communications related to prices that companies charge for meat products.

This follows the White House attacks on meat companies, linking them to the increase in inflation.

Don't pass the buck for inflation on to meatpackers
The House Ways and Means Committee Republican members said it's time for the administration to stop passing the buck for inflation on to meatpackers.  They said in a fact sheet that it was "dishonest and denies reality."  

They said the real reason for the increase in the cost of meat was rising labor shortages, increased labor costs and increasing production costs. Meatpackers are dealing with the same issues as other business sectors according to the fact sheet. 

Prop. 12 swine housing requirements on hold
The Superior Court for Sacramento County in California halted enforcement of Proposition 12 on sales of pork. Judge James Argelles said the California Department of Food and Agriculture cannot enforce the swine housing provisions of Prop 12 on certain parties until 180 days after the final rules go into effect. The judge declared that the trade associations, their members and their members' owners and operators "are not subject to enforcement of the prohibition on sales of whole pork meat."

However, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is calling the ruling a "narrow" decision, saying the enforcement prohibition only applies to groups that brought the challenge. Those groups are the California Restaurant Association, California Retailers Association, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California Grocers Association and Kruse and Son.

Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute said, "Judge Arguelles' decision recognizes the complexity of the pork supply chain and the burdensome and costly provisions of Prop 12. To enforce the law without final regulations leaves the industry unsure of how to comply or what significant changes must be made to provide pork to this critical market."

The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Prop. 12.

USDA Outlook Forum speakers
The USDA announced the plenary speakers for the 2022 Agricultural Outlook Forum, which will held virtually Feb. 24-25.

The opening session on Feb. 24 will feature a discussion by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Elizabeth Economy, senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, on U.S.-China agricultural trade relations and prospects for the Chinese market.

Following Vilsack will be a panel on "Growing Market Opportunities for Climate Smart, Sustainable Agriculture Systems." The panel will discuss "how climate smart, sustainable production practices can generate both environmental and economic returns while still meeting the needs of consumers."

The panel members will include:

  • David Allen, vice president of sustainability at PepsiCo Foods North America
  • Glenda Humiston, vice president, agriculture and natural resources at University of California
  • Mike McCloskey, chairman of Fair Oaks Farm and past CEO, Select Milk Producers
  • Elena Rice, chief scientific officer of Genus, PLC
  • Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy

USDA's Chief Economist Seth Meyer will open the session with USDA's 2022 outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade and U.S. farm income.

Registration is free and available here.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.



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