I visited with the Denver GIPSA office today and they confirmed that GIPSA has opened an investigation into price manipulation in the sheep market. Below is an excerpt of the Member Alert we will be publishing in our December Newsletter. Given that the investigation is now open, this information should be shared as widely and as quickly as possible to anyone in the sheep industry.
GIPSA Opens Investigation Into Price Manipulation in the Sheep Market
The First Step: In late November, the Denver Regional Office of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) officially opened an investigation into possible price manipulation in the sheep market by meatpackers to determine if the sheep packers have violated the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Action: Sheep producers need to immediately call GIPSA to inform them about any conduct or actions by lamb buyers and meatpackers that have contributed to the sharp decline in lamb prices. Without direct information from affected sheep producers, GIPSA will not know where to direct its investigation.
Here are just a few examples of the type of information GIPSA will need to conduct a thorough investigation:
Did your lamb buyer tell you the packers don’t need your lambs?
Did your lamb buyer tell you the packers are killing their own lambs and so you will have to wait to sell yours?
Did your lamb buyer tell you the packers are cutting back production in order to drive up lamb and mutton prices?
Did lamb buyers/packers refuse to bid on your lambs?
Did you have difficulty in entering a forward contract to sell your lambs?
Did you have difficulty selling your lambs?
Did anyone in the sheep industry tell you the packers have the power to keep lamb prices low and they intend to use their power to do just that?
Did your lamb buyer impose any new restrictions on your ability to sell your lambs?
These are just a few examples, but any information you may have that you believe has contributed to the decline in lamb prices would be extremely helpful.
Who to Call: If you are a sheep producer and have any information that you believe would be helpful to the investigation, please call or write:
Business Practices Unit Supervisor
Denver Regional Office
3950 N. Lewiston, Suite 200
Aurora, CO 80011-1556
Who Else to Call: Call your members of Congress and tell them the ongoing investigation into price manipulation in the sheep market needs to be expanded to address the failed trade policies that are forcing sheep production offshore. Urge them to support the establishment of a joint Congress/USDA/U.S. Trade Representative Office (USTR)/Justice Department emergency task force to develop a national strategy to reverse the ongoing destruction of our U.S. sheep industry.
Also, be sure to tell your member of Congress that they should reject any language in either the Farm Bill or the Appropriations Bill that would limit GIPSA’s ability to write rules necessary to properly administer and enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act.
If we successfully help sheep producers restore competition to their markets, our ability to restore competition in our cattle markets will be greatly improved. Thank you for your continued support.