Hoeven: USDA to Initiate Oversight into Beef Price Disparities

Senator Urged USDA, DOJ Investigations into Allegations of Price Fixing

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today issued the following statement after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Packers and Stockyards Division will extend its oversight to investigate price disparities between box and live beef during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoeven has raised the issue in conversations with Perdue and joined with a bipartisan groups of senators, led by Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice toinvestigate continued allegations of price fixing within the cattle industry. Hoeven also spoke with Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, stressing the need for strong oversight to prevent anti-competitive behavior.

“We welcome the expanded oversight by USDA to ensure that any anti-competitive behavior within the cattle industry is addressed and prevented,” Hoeven said. “We’ve been working closely with North Dakota’s livestock producer groups and the administration to advance investigations into the allegations of market manipulation. Our ranchers produce the highest quality beef in the world, and they deserve a fair price for their product.”

In addition to the above efforts, Hoeven has been working to support cattle producers impacted by low commodity prices. Accordingly, the senator secured $9.5 billion in emergency appropriations for USDA and $14 billion in additional Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) borrowing authority, the primary funding source for the Livestock Forage Program and many other farm programs, under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to address the challenges of COVID-19 on agriculture, including livestock producers. 

Hoeven is working with USDA to provide immediate and fair assistance and has spoken with Perdue on multiple occasions in recent weeks, emphasizing the importance of supporting livestock producers. The senator has also recently spoken with Under Secretary Ibach and Stephen Censky, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, to stress this issue and receive an update on the administration’s progress.