Grassley calls for investigation of cattle market volatility

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley wants the USDA and Department of Justice to investigate recent volatility in the cattle markets, to see if beef packers have “illegally manipulated” the markets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s very shameful if the big four packing companies are using this national crisis to gouge the farmer,” Grassley says. “I’m going to write to Attorney General Barr and Secretary of Agriculture Perdue, asking them to address this issue immediately, if there’s anything they find wrong.”

Grassley says it’s hard to understand why cattle prices are going down when beef is “flying off grocery shelves”.

AUDIO: Excerpt from Grassley’s conference call with ag reporters
  • YES, YES,.YES!!!! Finally! They call us whiners babies, it’s our fault, we just don’t understand how “it” works… blah blah.
    Thank you Senator Grassley.

  • Covid 19 isn’t the issue with beef prices at the sale barns. This has been happening my entire life. Senator Grassley is correct in noticing gouging cow calf and feeder operators. I own a small heard of 13 cows on a family farm in eastern KY. Cow calf operations Is a tradition to the people here. This issue is simple. It takes between 8-10 rolls of good hay to feed 1 cow through the winter here in Eastern KY. That’s between $240-$300 per winter per cow. Then add the fertilizer cost to grow the hay, the fuel for the equipment and trucks to harvest the hay and the fuel to feed the hay. (Not even counting equipment cost) Also add grain cost to feed those cows through the winter. Then medicine/vet bills to keep the animals healthy. You are well over $500 per cow at this point in cost. Then if you have any equipment break downs that adds on top of all the other cost. Heaven forbid you have to buy a tractor or hay mower. Your ruined if you do. Do not forget the same barns. It cost me well over $100 to sell 5 calves and a pound cow at the market on 3/27/20. With my calves averaging roughly $700 per head. It’s easy to see I lost money.

    It’s very simple. A couple years ago I sold $9600 in calves and fed $8500 in hay and grain. Add all the other cost I mentioned above and I lost thousands. Farmers here enjoy farming here and understand they can’t make a living with just a few head of cows, however they are selling out one farm after the other because cattle simply do not cover their own cost.

    To Senator Grassley and his colleagues, we are seeing the end times for cow operations. Unless something is drastically and immediately done there will simply be little to no beef production from America’s farmers.

    • Ranchers must start selling direct so they can control their sales prices. There are people willing to pay for knowing where their meat comes from and how it was raised.

      The going rate for grass-finished is $6/lb locally and $10/lb if shipped. Most of that could be going to the rancher instead of middle-men. The smaller your operation, the better for you to go direct.

  • The huge drop in cattle prices is not because of the Coronavirus. It dramatically dropped last fall when the one packing plant burned down. Then it dropped again when Brazilian beef was once again allowed back into the U.S. Now it has dropped again and is being blamed on the virus. It has been dropping for many years and we feel sorry for young ranchers because they have no end in sight and will not be able to survive. Purdue has been “investigating” the packer fire for months now and has still not come up with any answers. Packers need to be held accountable for stealing from the ranchers, not caring who they are destroying. Our grocery store prices have doubled for beef prices since the announcement of the virus and people cannot afford these prices, but the shelves are still bare. Someone is making money, but it is not the ranchers. No one wants government bail outs/hand outs, we want fair prices for our products. We need COOL and we need it now for our consumers and for us ranchers and also investigations into the packers.

  • It is a monopoly! Now packing houses shutting down they have ran all the smaller ones out of business and Trump says, monopolies are good for economy!

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