Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Pricing collusion lawsuit moves ahead

Three consolidated lawsuits accusing beef packers of conspiring to depress prices for cattle since early 2015 gained approval this week from a federal court in Minnesota to move forward.

One of the suits filed by the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) accused Cargill Inc., JBS S.A., National Beef Packing Co. and Tyson Foods Inc., of artificially reducing cattle slaughter volumes and manipulating the cash cattle trade. 

The four companies together process more than 80 per cent of U.S. beef cattle, the 124-page lawsuit claims. It is to be a jury trial conducted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer.

The latest amended filing no longer includes Agri Stats Inc., which provides consolidated data to such clients as protein producers.

But Agri Stats of Fort Wayne, Ind,, remains a defendant in a similar class-action lawsuit against more than a dozen poultry processsors.

Cargill and Tyson said the beef lawsuit allegations have no merit and the North American Meat Institute called them “unfounded”.