White House announces $1B plan to address increases in meat prices

National

FILE: In this photo made Dec. 8, 2009, a butcher puts out meat at Costco in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(The Hill) — The White House on Monday announced plans aimed at addressing rising prices for meat and poultry, including setting aside $1 billion for smaller producers.

The Biden administration unveiled its action plan to diversify and strengthen the meat-producing supply chain ahead of a scheduled virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and independent farmers and ranchers.

The White House has previously pointed to a small number of conglomerates for driving up meat and poultry prices, which have been a major contributor to broader inflation in recent months.

“When dominant middlemen control so much of the supply chain, they can increase their own profits at the expense of both farmers — who make less — and consumers — who pay more,” the White House said in a fact sheet announcing its action plan on Monday. “Most farmers now have little or no choice of buyer for their product and little leverage to negotiate, causing their share of every dollar spent on food to decline.”

The Biden administration is dedicating $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan, a bill signed into law last year, specifically for the purpose of expanding independent meat processing capacity.

That includes $375 million in grants for independent meat producers, $275 million in additional financing available for processors, $100 million to address inspection costs for smaller processing plants and $100 million in training for workers in the meat and poultry industry.

The administration also announced new efforts to ensure transparency in cattle markets and to ensure there are reasonable levels of competition in the industry so that it is not controlled by just a few big conglomerates.

Biden officials have been focused on meat and poultry prices for months as they look for ways to address inflation. Food prices have increased by more than 6% compared to last year, with beef and poultry among the biggest contributors.

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