WASHINGTON D.C. (KFVS) - U.S. Senators Josh Hawley and Tammy Baldwin are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an antitrust investigation into the meatpacking and processing industry.
Sen. Hawley and Baldwin have sent a letter to the FTC to express their concerns and fears.
In the letter, the senators argue the domination of four companies in the meatpacking and processing industry creates an anti-competitive atmosphere and undermines the stability of United State’s meat supply.
The senators want the FTC to investigate the practices of Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS S.A. and Smithfield Foods.
They are urging the Commission to as probing questions about meatpacking firms’ conduct, pricing, contracting and how their commitments to overseas interests impact the U.S. market.
The senators believe this is an issue of national security.
The letter states the four companies process 85 percent of all the beef in the U.S. and three of the companies, multi-national firms, control 63 percent of America’s pork processing.
The concern is there are few meat processing plants to handle the supply and demand in the U.S. which puts consumers and farmers at risk.
In recent days, some pork, beef and chicken plants have been forced to close due to thousands of employees contracting COVID-19.
The fear is there will be a lasting ripple effect in the food supply industry for Americans due to the plant shutdowns.
Farmers cannot have their current livestock processed as more animals enter the market which cuts down on the supply at grocery stores and leaves consumers without a meat source.
In the letter, the senators said the plant shutdowns might have been prevented if the meatpacking industry was less concentrated and America’s food supplies should not be in the hands of a few, mostly foreign-based firms.
The senators are asking the FTC to urgently begin an investigation.