JOSH WINGROVE and MIKE DORNING Bloomberg News
The Biden administration is lashing out at major meat packers, accusing their “pandemic profiteer” of crushing consumers and farmers, with a few companies that dominate the industry raking in record profits.
White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese said on Wednesday that price increases in beef, pork and poultry were responsible for half of the rise in food prices since the end of 2020, but the farmers have earned little in what they are paid by the giant meat companies.
“This raises concern about profits linked to the pandemic, businesses driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers who go to the grocery store,” Deese said. What happened “does not benefit the real producers, farmers and ranchers who grow the product,” he said.
The comments, during a White House press briefing, and similar criticisms in a previous blog post by three top economic officials in the Biden administration, caused shares of major meat companies to fall. Sanderson Farms Inc. fell 1.7%, JBS SA fell 3.5% to its lowest for the session, while Tyson Foods Inc. fell 1.6% at one point.
As the midterm elections approach next year, the Biden administration has expressed concern about rising consumer prices as the economy rebounds from Covid-19. Republicans have repeatedly blamed President Joe Biden and Democrats, saying their economic policies have pushed prices up. The White House says the price pressures are temporary and are a result of the rebound.