Kentucky officials are asking the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch an investigation into the meatpacking industry.
This comes as local cattle farmers say they’re being paid less for their meat products, even though prices on store shelves are skyrocketing.
The Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron drafted a letter, asking the DOJ to look into potentially illegal anti-competitive practices.
According to recent reports, consumer demand for beef has remained steady and boxed beef prices have jumped in early 2020, yet the prices paid to cattle producers have continued to drop.
– Letter From Quarles and Cameron to Attorney General William Barr of the U.S. Department of Justice
Employees at multiple different meat processing plants across Kentucky have tested positive for COVID-19, wreaking havoc on the supply chain of beef and other meat products – but according to Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Quarles, producers are being paid less even though stores are charging more.
“Our beef cattle producers have seen 30% and 40% price drops since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, even while the price of beef products at the grocery store has increased,” said Quarles.
An ongoing investigation found that 14,000 confirmed coronavirus cases are tied to nearly 200 meat processing plants across the U.S., and at least 54 employees have died, CBS This Morning reported.
After United States President Donald Trump spoke with food and agricultural executives to address the nation’s food supply and signed an executive order calling for meat processing facilities to remain open, many have voiced concerns for the safety of workers.