Ranch group supports presidential order to keep beef packers operating

Staff reports
Farm Forum

BILLINGS, Mont. — Responding to the April 28 executive order by President Donald J. Trump in which he invoked the Defense Production Act to declare meatpacking operations critical infrastructure that must remain open, R-CALF USA said on April 30 that Trump's action was necessary to prevent further collapse of the United States' meat supply chain.

In a letter sent on April 29 to Trump and congressional leaders, R-CALF USA stated the current meat supply chain lacks resiliency and redundancy and threatens the food security interests of the United States. The letter stated this interest was "arguably the most vital of interests to all of America.

R-CALF USA has urged congressional and regulatory reforms of the nation's beef supply chain for decades, including in a 2013 South Dakota Law Review article in which it stated the industry underwent a period of "merger mania" from 1980 through 2010, resulting in just four major beef packers controlling 85% of all cattle raised specifically for beef production. R-CALF USA argued then that this level of concentration was the highest level of concentration of any industry in the United States.

In the April 29 letter, the group urged a review to consider whether a physical and geographical restructuring of the meatpacking industry is required to disaggregate and decentralize beef processing capacity. It specifically urges the development of a strategic, national food production, processing and distribution policy that can meet America's food security interests.

"Until this current crisis is over, and the President and Congress can conduct such a review and develop such a strategic plan, our nation must administer triage to ensure that our highly centralized and concentrated beef processing system keeps providing our citizens with nutritious food. We simply must keep the current system running through this crisis," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

"And that is precisely what the President did and we support it," Bullard added.