Biden Meets Farmers In Bid To Slash Meat Prices
President Joe Biden will meet virtually with independent farmers and ranchers to discuss initiatives to reduce food prices by increasing competition within the meat industry, part of a broader effort to show the administration is trying to combat inflation, Josh Boak reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: President Joe Biden in a virtual meeting with the meat industry
The White House event occurs Monday afternoon (Tuesday, Jan. 4, in Manila) as higher-than-expected inflation has thwarted Biden’s agenda. Consumer prices in November rose 6.8% over the prior 12 months — a 39-year high.
Inflation has hurt Biden’s public approval, become fodder for Republican attacks and prompted Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to cite higher prices as a reason to sideline the Democratic president’s tax, social and economic programs.
Biden is building off a July executive order that directed the Agriculture Department to more aggressively look at possible violations of the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act, which was designed to ensure fair competition and protect consumers. Meat prices have climbed 16% from a year ago, with beef prices up 20.9%.
The administration is targeting meat processing plants, which can shape the prices paid to farmers and charged to consumers. The White House issued a fact sheet saying that the top four companies control 85% of the beef market. For poultry, the biggest four processing firms have 54% of the market.
The four biggest firms control 70% of the market. Biden plans to stress the plans to distribute $1 billion from the coronavirus relief package to help independent meat processors expand. He also plans to highlight funding to train workers in the industry and improve conditions, as well as issue new rules for meatpackers and labeling requirements for being designated a “Product of USA.”