Republicans on the House Antitrust Subcommittee sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday urging deregulation of the meat industry. The members of the subcommittee argued that the consolidation of the industry has pushed out local meat processors and caused supply chain failures, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Spectator.
Americans faced meat shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak because of large processing plants closing down after workers contracted the virus. Meat packaging in the United States is largely controlled by just a few big corporations, so one plant closing down has a severe effect on supply across the industry.
The subcommittee members, Reps. Jim Jordan, James Sensenbrenner, Ken Buck, Matt Gaetz, Kelly Armstrong, and Greg Steube, called for several specific deregulation measures in their letter aimed at preventing similar breakdowns in the future. For example, the members suggest providing more flexibility for small processors to comply with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plans and streamlining the approval process for meat product labels.
The letter says:
‘Appropriate regulatory reform in these and other areas will lower barriers to entry and expansion that smaller meat processors face. Such reform will enhance competition far more than denouncing consolidation — and the large processors — in an industry that federal law has shaped for decades. Taking action now will benefit smaller processors, help the ranchers and livestock farmers they serve, and strengthen a crucial part of the nation’s food supply chain.’
One of the other issues facing the meat industry is the presence of foreign-owned companies that aren’t accountable to American shareholders and hold little loyalty to American consumers. Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, is owned by a Chinese firm, which is especially concerning given the Chinese Communist party’s coverup of the coronavirus outbreak. JBS, the largest beef producer, is a Brazilian-owned company with a history of corruption. Its former owners, the Batista brothers, were recently allowed to return to the board of JBS’s parent company despite serving jail time after admitting to an extensive bribery campaign and insider trading.