Tom Vilsack. (USDA photo)

Biden Administration officials say the nation’s four major meatpackers are engaging in “pandemic profiteering” and generating record or near-record profits this year. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it’s time to hold meatpackers responsible for unfair practices.

“Farmers are losing money on cattle, on hogs and poultry that they are selling at a time when consumers are seeing higher prices at the grocery store,” he said during a briefing at the White House earlier today.

Vilsack and other members of the administration’s competitiveness council meet Friday to discuss ways to address consolidation in the industry.

“I remember talking to a producer the other day in Council Bluffs and he said: ‘I don’t get this, Mr. Secretary. I just sold my cattle and I lost $150 a head, but the processor made $1800 a head,” Vilsack said. “How can that be?”

Legislation introduced in congress would require more disclosure of the prices meatpackers are paying private contractors. That may give independent livestock producers a better sense of what meatpackers are willing to pay for cattle, hogs and poultry.

According to the National Meat Institute, consumers are paying higher prices for beef, pork, chicken and eggs because of a “persistent and widespread shortage” of workers in meatpacking plants.