The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation Monday into the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants during the course of the pandemic. The committee sent letters to the country's top meatpackers — JBS, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods — as well as to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting scores of information on the entities' management of the spread of the virus among meatpacking workers, with a response deadline of Feb. 15.(No paywall)
As Covid-19 has swept through meatpacking facilities, it has been hard to figure out exactly how many workers have gotten sick or died of the virus. Some companies have shared numbers on positive cases, but most of the largest meatpackers have kept that data private. Critics say that the lack of disclosure puts public health at risk, especially as nearly all idled meat plants reopen. (No paywall)
The Trump administration's top meat-industry priority is reopening three pork plants, now shuttered due to coronavirus outbreaks, that account for 12 percent of U.S. hog slaughter, said the House Agriculture Committee chairman on Wednesday. Labor and public officials said meat production will not revive nationwide unless workers feel safe in the processing plants. (No paywall)
A class-action lawsuit filed this week on behalf of pork consumers alleges that hog companies have colluded to artificially hike the price of pork — and their profits. The complaint also provides new insight into Agri Stats, a data-sharing company that sits at the center of the wave of antitrust allegations sweeping the meat sector.(No paywall)
Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Perdue Farms have all been subpoenaed by the Department of Justice in the agency’s grand jury investigation into the poultry sector. FERN broke news of the investigation in June. The Wall Street Journal reports that the three poultry companies will cooperate …
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in Chicago granted the Department of Justice’s request to stay discovery in a high-profile case that alleges collusion in the poultry industry. Durkin halted discovery in the case for three months, half the time DOJ had requested to protect its own grand jury investigation of the poultry sector.
Last week, several Midwestern feedlot owners along with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.(No paywall)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (No paywall)
Tyson, the largest U.S. meat company, will buy Keystone Foods for $2.16 billion. Keystone's prior owner, Marfrig Global Foods, announced the brand was up for sale earlier this year. The deal will face regulatory review in at least the U.S. and China.