The U.S. meat industry had better raise its sleeve—because it’s about to get boosted.
On Monday, President Biden announced the administration would be directing $1B toward the meat industry in an effort to improve competition in what some see as a meat monopoly.
Presidential soundbite: “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation. That’s what we’re seeing in meat and poultry industries now.”
A bit more context: The White House reported that an overwhelming majority of all meat processing is controlled by Cargill, JBS SA, Tyson, and National Beef. Food inflation and a reported 120% jump in profits for the “big four” since the pandemic began have put them in the spotlight.
What’s the plan, Stan Tom? The funds will be channeled through the USDA and primarily overseen by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has reviewed hundreds of stakeholder comments on the subject.
Funds will be used to address a laundry list of issues, including processing expansion, producer income, rural jobs creation, worker safety, and consumer choice.
(Not so) United for Biden: Yet enthusiasm isn’t across the board. The North American Meat Institute says the plan will not address the labor shortage, and Bill Bullard with the independent cattle group R-CALF noted the plan lacks “decisive action” and that the administration should rather “decisively enforce our current laws.”
Oh, and this: The plan does intend to address “Product of USA” labeling and the loophole used by multinational corporations that allows animals to be raised overseas and simply processed in the U.S.