KCA Responds to President Biden's Beef Supply Chain Action Plan
The Biden-Harris Administration announced on Monday, a four-part action plan for fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain. The plan includes the dedication of over $1 Billion from the American Rescue Plan to fund independent processing capacity expansion, beefing up rules that are designed to protect ranchers and consumers from abusive monopolistic practices, improved cattle market transparency, and enforcement of existing laws.
“The action plan demonstrates a significant understanding of the issues by the Administration. That alone is a great sign they are listening to the countryside and not just the big-money meat lobby,” stated Tyler Dupy, Kansas Cattlemen’s Association Executive Director.
Dupy explained, “the action plan continues to focus on breaking down barriers within the independent meat packing sector, providing relief from USDA inspection fees for overtime and holiday pay. Improving access to federal inspection for interstate commerce has been a success in getting beef to the consumer in a time when the commercial supply chain was breaking.”
Early in the pandemic, Tyson Foods paid for a full-page advertisement in the New York Times Ad, stating, “Food Supply Chain in Breaking.” Tyson claimed in the ad, “there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.” Cattle prices plunged, consumer beef prices skyrocketed, packer profits went through the roof, and the Federal government finally began to question the commercial food supply chain, and the bottleneck the meat packing industry has become.
“The funnel feeding the cattle into the supply chain is very narrow, which in turn, provides the commercial meat packers with a tremendous amount of influence on both cattle market values and boxed beef prices. The independent meat processors demonstrated their value in an otherwise highly concentrated supply chain during the pandemic. The President, with this plan, seeks to double-down on expanding the independent model with a notable investment, and KCA supports the program,” stated Dupy.
The action plan includes the issuance of new “Product of USA” labeling rules and strengthening Packers and Stockyards Act rules and enforcement. Kansas Cattlemen’s Association has decades of support for Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, improved rules and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, and FTC anti-trust action.
“The action plan reads well. Now, KCA expects the Administration to turn words on the paper into actions, especially by DOJ, USDA, and the Packers and Stockyards Enforcement Division. The plan touches on many Kansas Cattlemen’s membership policy initiatives, and we will support plans for a more competitive and transparent marketplace, truth in labeling legislation, and investment into rural processors and capacity enhancements,” stated KCA President, Riley Robbins.