As meat prices rise, White House promises action

NEW YORK -- Rising meat prices are prompting the White House to take action.

Groceries prices are up nearly three percent in the last year, with beef and pork up more than ten percent, ABC News reports.

At a briefing Wednesday, White House officials took aim at the big meat companies.

"It raises a concern about pandemic profiteering, about companies that are driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers," said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council.

They say four companies -- JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., and National Beef Packing Company -- control most of the market. Data shows they've been raising prices during the pandemic, while generating big profits.

"Those companies have seen record or near record profits in the first half of this year," Deese said. "And that has coincided with a period where we've seen disproportionate increase in prices in those segments."

Although the companies have faced unprecedented labor and transportation costs due to the pandemic Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack suggested the companies may now be price-gouging.

"Our job is to make sure that that farmer gets a fair price and that the producer -- when I go to the grocery store, and I'm in the checkout line, I'm paying a fair price," Vilsack said.

So to ensure consumers and farmers are treated fairly, the White House said it is moving to strengthen current regulations, expand processing capacity and promoting American-made labels.

Tyson Foods was the only meat company to respond to ABC News. It disputes the White House's claims and says market conditions caused by the pandemic and the weather are to blame for the higher prices.
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