Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

U.S. President Joe Biden is launching a crackdown on the country’s largest meat producers, including a call for stricter “Made in America” ​​labeling rules that could fuel tensions with U.S. trading partners.

Biden’s effort was announced by the White House on Monday ahead of a scheduled meeting later that day between the president and a group of independent and family-owned independent meat producers.

The Biden administration has singled out excessive market concentration in the U.S. meat industry as a key source of vulnerability in the country’s food supply chain, and one of the causes of high inflation. The White House said Monday only four companies control 85 percent of the beef market, 70 percent of the pork market and 54 percent of the poultry market.

“Even as farmers’ share of profits has declined, American consumers are paying more – with meat and poultry prices now the single biggest contributor to the rising cost of food people are consuming at home,” the White House said. “And when too few companies control such a large share of the market, our food supply chains are prone to shocks,” it added.

The steps announced by Biden on Monday include financial incentives, including grants, to strengthen capacity among independent meat processors, and measures to facilitate credit to smaller meat producers.

The White House also said it would continue with stricter labeling standards for “Made in America” ​​meat products, which would harm large producers and processors who rely on imports in their production process. This could fuel tensions with meat exporters to the US who have often complained about barriers to entry into the US market.

Under current labeling rules, meat can be labeled as “Product of USA” if it is only processed here – including when meat is grown overseas and then simply processed into meat cuts here. “We believe this can make it difficult for American consumers to know what they are getting,” the White House said on Monday.

The reforms will also include the creation of a new online portal by the U.S. Department of Justice and Agriculture to report competition law violations in the industry, in an effort to curb price fixing in the sector. In November, the price index for meat rose 16 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as opposed to a 6.8 percent rise in the overall consumer price index.

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