CHICAGO – A lawsuit filed in federal court accuses Tyson Foods, JBS S.A., National Beef Packing Co. and Cargill of conspiring to depress prices for fed cattle to the detriment of ranchers and cattle futures traders.
According to court documents filed by the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF), the meat packers conspired to:
- reduce slaughter volumes and purchases of cattle sold on the cash market in order to create a glut of slaughter-weight fed cattle;
- manipulate the cash cattle trade to reduce price competition amongst themselves;
- transport cattle over uneconomically long distances in order to depress US fed cattle prices; and
- deliberately close slaughter plants to ensure the underutilization of available US beef packing capacity.
R-CALF is seeking class action status which would include cattle producers who sold fed cattle to any one of the “Big 4” from January 2015 to the present and live cattle futures traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
R-CALF has advocated on behalf of independent ranchers and cattle producers who believe that consolidation in the meat packing industry has made receiving fair prices for their cattle nearly impossible.
“R-CALF USA is taking this historic action to fulfill its promise to its members to prevent the Big 4 packers from capturing the US cattle market from independent US cattle producers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “We have exhausted all other remedies but now, with the expert help of Scott+Scott and Cafferty Clobes, our members’ concerns will be addressed, and we hope US cattle ranchers can be compensated for years of significant losses.”