May 30, 2020
LINCOLN, NE: Today, Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is calling for the breakup of the “Big Four” meatpacking companies: Cargill, JBS, National Beef, and Tyson. Together, these four companies control over 85% of the United States beef supply. Recent packing plant closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused supply-chain disruptions that have had severely harmful consequences for producers, including meatpacking workers, farmers, and ranchers.
“What the COVID-19 pandemic response has shown us is that the biggest links in our food supply chain are the weakest,” said Ben Gotschall, Interim Executive Director of OCM. “In the interest of our economic, food and national security, the United States needs to remove these weak links by breaking up the Big Four meatpackers and taking steps to ensure that we never again reach today’s harmful level of market concentration.”
According to a recent blog post on the OCM website, breaking up the Big Four meatpackers is one of several actions that could be taken now to strengthen the agriculture and food system. Those actions include mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, Reform of the commodity checkoff system, and enforcement of the 1921 Packers and Stockyard Act.
OCM’s suggestions come at the same time Senate and House members are calling for antitrust investigations into the meatpacking industry as well as a moratorium on agribusiness mergers.
“The United States needs to move toward a more decentralized food system—a system based on fair, transparent, and competitive markets so that we can have more farmers and ranchers on the land, producing food with more value in more places,” said Gotschall. “Consumers and producers alike can benefit from a system designed not to extract profits for a few large corporations, but to enrich our rural and urban communities and nourish our nation’s people.”