cows hanging in cold storage
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Press Release Provided by North American Meat Institute  

In May, the North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) released a document to clarify common misunderstandings about the complex and competitive beef market in the United States.

“The members of the Meat Institute and their livestock suppliers benefit from a fair and competitive market,” said Meat Institute Vice President of Communications Sarah Little. “This document uses public sources to give an accurate picture of the dynamic beef market, especially given the COVID pandemic.

“In July 2020, USDA analyzed the effects of the 2019 Holcomb facility fire and the pandemic, finding no wrong-doing and confirming the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events.

“Despite the pandemic’s challenges the market is competitive and growing. Since October 2020, there have been several announcements of investments to build new packing facilities or expand capacity at existing plants that would increase cattle slaughter capacity by about four percent, including new independent, local, and regional packers.

“Meat and poultry companies are utilizing capacity to the best of their abilities with COVID protocol constraints still in place and despite significant labor challenges that existed prior to – and have been exacerbated by – COVID. In fact, Saturday slaughter for the year was 51 percent above last year and 65 percent over 2019. 

“Those calling for government intervention in the market never address labor. Labor is, and is likely to remain, a significant factor that affects utilization of production; and is also a factor that will challenge new small and medium sized facilities entering the market.

“The Meat Institute will continue to work with livestock producer organizations to ensure proposed changes to the beef markets do not have unintended consequences for producers and consumers.”