Biden Administration aims to lower the cost of meat in 2022

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 12:15 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - From supply chain issues to labor shortages, according to Drake University Law Professor Jennifer Zwagerman, there are many reasons the cost of grocery store meat is higher than usual.

Whether it’s intentional or not, she said the meatpackers in the center of the supply chain are profiting at the expense of both farmers, who are making less, and consumers, who are paying more.

“There is sort of this middleman in there that can profit from the demand that’s increasing and yet control what’s paid out to the other side,” said Zwagerman.

In the new year, President Biden is hoping to ease food costs through federal aid and supply chain diversification.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the administration will expand meat and poultry processing with $1 billion of COVID relief funding.

“It will give farmers the opportunity to have more choices about where they sell their livestock,” said Vilsack. “[That] obviously should result in better farm income.”

Vilsack said they’re also working to monitor unfair and deceptive practices with a new initiative to protect whistleblower status and by strengthening a 100-year-old law, the Packers and Stockyards Act, designed to keep meatpackers and processors in check.

“[We are] making sure that there’s a sufficient understanding and clarity about how that act can be violated and what rights farmers have under the Packers and Stockyards Act,” he said.

Zwagerman commends these efforts, but points out packing is for profit.

“As soon as our supply chain concerns are gone, you would think prices should drop. I don’t think that’s really going to be the case because those in the middle say, ‘Oh, people have been paying this, we’ll keep it where it is’,” she said. “But, that again doesn’t get passed on to the producer.”

Vilsack said he believes grocery store prices will moderate over the next year.

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