Southwest Missouri ranchers asking federal investigators to look into what they say is unfair beef pricing

Joplin Area Coronavirus

MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. — Southwest Missouri ranchers asking federal investigators to look into what they say is unfair beef pricing.

McDonald County rancher Ronnie Rogers is having a tough year.

Ronnie Rogers, McDonald Co. Rancher, said, “In the ’60s, we could take a pickup load of calves to town and take the check and go buy a new pickup. And now you can have a great big truck with a great big trailer on the back and you’ll have enough for a down payment on a pickup.”

That at the same time beef meatpacking industry is seeing higher and higher returns and consumers are paying more at the store.

He estimates he’s getting 30% less for his herd than just four months ago.

“It’s down from oh $1.75 – 1.90 a pound to $1 and a quarter for a 700 pound calf.”

The coronavirus pandemic and restrictions are factors.

A fire last August at a Kansas processing plant also contributed to beef market volatility.

It’s under investigation by the USDA.

But the Cattleman’s Associations in Missouri and 22 other states are asking the federal Department of Justice to investigate.

Mike Deering, MO Cattleman’s Assoc, said, “What DOJ would do is – Is there manipulation? Is there collusion? And if there are, then hold those accountable swiftly and aggressively.”

But Sarah Little with the North American Meat Institute argues outside interference would make matters worse.

She said Quote, “Government attempts to force packers to buy half their cattle on the spot market would distort the market and cause further upheaval to the food supply chain during these unprecedented times.”

Future prices and transparency could also be affected by Congressional action required later this year.

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