By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The chief executives of U.S. meatpackers Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS and National Beef Packing have agreed to testify at a Congressional hearing discussing cattle markets and price increases for consumers, House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott said on Wednesday.
“It is very important, very vital, and very urgent that we hear the perspectives from the CEOs at these companies and get the full picture of why prices have gone up for consumers and down for ranchers,” Scott said in a statement.
“In addition to this panel of CEOs, we will be convening a panel of ranchers to hear what consolidation in the beef industry has done to their bottomlines and viability,” he added.
Increased prices and profits for meatpacking companies have threatened to amplify Washington’s scrutiny of the U.S. meatpacking industry, as the Biden administration has criticized a lack of competition in the sector.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan in January for new rules to bolster competition and stop “exploitation” in the sector amid concerns that a small group of meat packers was capable of dictating beef, pork and poultry prices, adding to inflation pressures caused by rising labor and transportation costs and by COVID 19-related supply constraints.
In January, the chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on economic and consumer policy sent a letter to major U.S. meat processing companies, seeking information on rising prices and profits.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in WashingtonEditing by Bernadette Baum)