Senator Grassley. (File photo)

Competition in the meat supply chain is the subject of a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, and at least three Iowans will be in the chamber.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley calls the hearing “long awaited” as he says he’s been expressing strong reservations about consolidation within agriculture and the livestock industry for more than 20 years. “We have two Iowans as witnesses and I look forward to their testimony,” Grassley says. “Family farmers are very important to rural communities across America. We’ve got to keep the family farmer strong and from the standpoint of cattle feeders, they’re on life support.”

The two Iowans who are scheduled to testify are: Jon Schaben, owner of Dunlap Livestock Auction, and Shane Miller, group president of Fresh Meats at Tyson Foods. Tyson joins JBS, Cargill and National Beef as the four largest meatpackers which, Grassley says, control 80-percent of the marketplace.

“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for every one dollar Americans spend on food, farmers only get 14.3 cents,” Grassley says. “Meantime, the retail price of beef for consumers has increased and remains very high.” The pandemic has brought to the forefront the U.S.D.A.’s inability to preserve our nation’s beef supply chain, Grassley says, calling on the agency to be more engaged and aggressive in policing anti-competitive activities.

“I’m not upset about paying more for my beef but I’m upset that farmers are not getting a fair price,” he says. The Senate hearing, called “Beefing up Competition: Examining America’s Food Supply Chain,” is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:30 PM/Central time.