sunny.png
Thursday January 27th, 2022 1:24PM

Biden: More competition in meat industry can ease food costs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden met virtually with independent farmers and ranchers Monday to discuss initiatives to reduce food prices by increasing competition within the meat industry, part of a broader effort to show his administration is trying to combat inflation.

“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism — it’s exploitation,” Biden said.

Higher-than-expected inflation has thwarted Biden's agenda, hurt his public approval rating, become fodder for Republican attacks and prompted Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to cite higher prices as a reason to sideline the Democratic president’s tax, social and economic programs. In November, consumer prices rose 6.8% over the prior 12 months — a 39-year high.

On food costs, Biden is building off a July executive order that directed the Agriculture Department to more aggressively look at possible violations of the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act, which was designed to ensure fair competition and protect consumers. Meat prices have climbed 16% from a year ago, with beef prices up 20.9%.

The president said the higher prices have been the subject of frustration at his own kitchen table. His wife, Jill, was talking Sunday with her sister and a friend about a pound of hamburger meat costing $5 a pound, compared with less than $4 before the pandemic.

The administration is targeting meat processing plants, which can shape the prices paid to farmers and charged to consumers. The White House issued a fact sheet saying the top four companies control 85% of the beef market. In poultry, the biggest four processing firms control 54% of the market. And for pork, the figure is 70% for the four biggest firms.

Some industry groups are pushing back against the administration's planned oversight of the food industry.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the coronavirus and higher costs for energy and labor are driving meat prices higher, not the corporate structure of the industry.

Bradley said the administration is practicing politics instead of economics and "government intervention would likely further constrain supply and push prices even higher.”

Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, said, “This looks like a solution in search of a problem.” He said the administration is using the food industry as a “scapegoat for the significant challenges facing our economy. ”

Yet there are also groups representing farmers and cattlemen who applauded Biden's moves, saying the current system has put independent producers and consumers at a disadvantage.

“We must get to the bottom of why farmers and ranchers continue to receive low payments while families across America endure rising meat prices,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We are encouraged by the administration’s willingness to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to improve price discovery in the cattle markets.”

Biden outlined plans to distribute $1 billion from the coronavirus relief package to help independent meat processors expand. He also highlighted money to train workers in the industry and improve conditions, as well as issue new rules for meatpackers and labeling requirements for being designated a “Product of USA.”

The Justice Department and the Agriculture Department will launch a joint effort to make it easier to report anti-competitive actions to the government. The administration will also seek to improve the transparency of the cattle market, with Biden saying, “A free market isn’t truly free without transparency around prices.”

The effort is part of a broader attempt to regain control of America's economic narrative. Besides inflation, the repeated waves of coronavirus outbreak have dampened people's opinions about the economy despite strong growth over the past year.

Biden will have an opportunity to highlight the economy's strengths with the December jobs report being released Friday. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect that the United States added 362,000 jobs last month with the unemployment rate ticking down to 4.1%. Gains of that magnitude would indicate that the U.S. added roughly 6.5 million jobs last year, more than in any other previous year in a reflection of population growth and government spending.

___

Associated Press writer Josh Funk in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Agriculture
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies Rep. Fortenberry's motions to dismiss charges
A federal judge has rejected U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s attempts to dismiss charges accusing the Nebraska Republican of making false statements to FBI agents who were investigating an illegal foreign donation to his campaign
3:42PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Document Prince Andrew claims prevents lawsuit is released
A 2009 lawsuit settlement that Prince Andrew's lawyers claim protects him from being sued by an American woman has been publicly released
3:38PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Biden: More competition in meat industry can ease food costs
Higher-than-expected inflation has thwarted President Joe Biden’s agenda and hurt his public approval rating
3:38PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Schumer: Senate to vote on filibuster change on voting bill
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the Senate will vote on filibuster rules changes to advance stalled voting rights legislation
2:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
Live updates: US Congress’ doctor urges ‘maximal telework’
Congress’ top doctor says lawmakers should move to a “maximal telework posture.”
1:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
Congress' doctor wants 'maximal telework' amid virus surge
Congress’ top doctor says lawmakers should move to a “maximal telework posture.”
12:32PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Investigators narrow search for origin of Colorado wildfire
Investigators looking for the cause of the Colorado wildfire that destroyed nearly 1,000 homes have narrowed their search to a sparsely populated neighborhood near Boulder
2:50PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Holmes jury says it's deadlocked on 3 of 11 criminal charges
The jury weighing fraud charges against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is unable to reach a unanimous verdict on three of the 11 criminal counts she faces, according to a note from the panel read aloud in court
2:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump, Ivanka, Don Jr subpoenaed by NY attorney general
New York’s attorney general recently issued subpoenas to former President Donald Trump and his two eldest children in connection with an ongoing civil investigation into the family’s business practices
2:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
After big 2021, Wall Street starts new year on strong note
Stocks are getting the new year off to a solid start, posting gains on the first day of trading after closing out 2021 with big gains for the third year in a row
10:33AM ( 5 hours ago )
Global stocks higher after Wall St ends 2021 with big gain
Global stock markets and U.S. futures are mostly higher on 2022′s first trading day after Wall Street ended last year with a double-digit gain
4:15AM ( 11 hours ago )
Asian stocks mixed after Wall St ends 2021 with big gain
Asian stock markets are mixed on 2022′s first trading day after Wall Street ended last year with a double-digit gain
12:43AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
British PM: Health service under strain, but no new measures
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is suggesting there will be no tightening of measures to slow the current surge in coronavirus infections, in spite of the country’s healthcare system remaining under strain for weeks
12:54PM ( 2 hours ago )
Live updates: Ontario closes schools, indoor dining and gyms
All schools in Canada’s most populous province will be shut down and move to online learning because of a record number of coronavirus infections fueled by the ultra-contagious omicron variant
12:16PM ( 3 hours ago )
Live updates: South Korea records 1st omicron variant death
 South Korea says it has confirmed its first death related to the new omicron variant
10:16AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
AP Business - Agriculture
Judge denies Rep. Fortenberry's motions to dismiss charges
A federal judge has rejected U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s attempts to dismiss charges accusing the Nebraska Republican of making false statements to FBI agents who were investigating an illegal foreign donation to his campaign
3:42PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Document Prince Andrew claims prevents lawsuit is released
A 2009 lawsuit settlement that Prince Andrew's lawyers claim protects him from being sued by an American woman has been publicly released
3:38PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Man United labors to worrying first loss under Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick has fallen to his first loss as Manchester United manager after Joao Moutinho’s 82nd-minute strike earns Wolverhampton a 1-0 win in the English Premier League
3:37PM ( 10 minutes ago )
$29,000 for an average used car? Would-be buyers are aghast
Prices for used cars are soaring so high, so fast, that buyers are being increasingly priced out of the market
3:33PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Holmes jury split on three of eleven fraud charges
The jury weighing fraud charges against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on Monday informed the judge they are deadlocked on three of the 11 counts she faces
3:30PM ( 17 minutes ago )