by: Emily Manley
Posted: Mar 1, 2021 / 06:45 PM CST / Updated: Mar 1, 2021 / 06:45 PM CST
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missourians could see an increase in their grocery bill due to buying beef products and one lawmaker plans to investigate the higher prices and why it’s hurting Missouri farmers.
Rep. David Gregory (R-St. Louis) said the higher prices are coming from the meatpacking companies and the price gouging has been happening for years.
“Right now, there’s some strong substance evidence that the meat packers are coordinating efforts to suppress the price of fed cattle,” Gregory said. “This all pre-dates COVID. This has been going on, there has been circumstantial evidence, there’s been a strong suggestion and strong correlation that this has been going on since as early as 2015.”
Gregory, who is the chairman of the Special Committee on Government Accountability, wants to investigate price fixing and other anticompetitive practices in the cattle industry.
“Missouri farmers and cattlemen are experiencing low prices for their fed cattle, while at the exact same time, the meat packers are enjoying an all-time price for their beef products,” he said.
These higher prices at the grocery store affect the pocketbooks of Missourians.
“Anybody that enjoys a cheeseburger or any type of other beef product—steak, you name it—they’re going to be affected and they are going to affected with higher prices,” Gregory said.
Last week, Gregory and 26 other Missouri House members sent a letter to the Speaker of the House asking for his support of the investigation into price fixing and anticompetitive practices.
“We’ve got a lot of players in the industry that have come out and said, ‘I’ve heard these conversations’ or ‘I see these types of things taking place,’” Gregory said. “We’re going to look at the shutting down of certain packing plants all at the same time. The importation of cattle—even when uneconomical—into the country as opposed to just using the current cattle that’s available here in the United States.”
Last May, 11 attorneys general, including Missouri AG Eric Schmitt, asked the US Department of Justice for an investigation into meat packers.
“This isn’t just a Missouri problem,” Gregory said. “This is an agriculture cattlemen’s problem across the entire country, of which we are experiencing here in Missouri.”
Gregory said he has not heard back from Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) yet, but once he does, he plans on his committee to start the investigation. He said it’s important to get subpoena power from the Speaker.
“The ability to subpoena a witness, the ability to subpoena the documents, those type of things can really hold the industry accountable,” Gregory said.
According to “Beef Central,” Missouri is the third-largest cow-calf state in the nation, with more than 2 million cows as of Jan. 2020.
You can read Rep. Gregory’s letter to Speaker Vescovo below: