U.S. Meat Processors Fire Back after Receiving Blame for Inflation, Claims Labor Shortage is Issue

by Shelby Scott

Among ongoing inflation and increased labor shortages, the United States meatpacking industry recently took a hit from the Biden administration during a recent press conference. Federal representatives insinuated the country’s largest meat firms are greedy. However, in a statement released Tuesday, industry leaders fired back. They claim the Biden administration persists in ignoring the actual reasons for continued inflation.

According to the New York Post, the North American Meat Institute blasted the current administration following last week’s press conference, their scathing statement available via Twitter. The North American Meat Institute serves as a trade group representing America’s meat processors. These include JBS USA, Cargill, and Tyson Foods.

The outlet detailed how, during the conference, the administration accused high-profile meatpackers of “pandemic profiteering.”

In their statement, the industry claims the government “refuses to acknowledge” the central issue, pointing to the ongoing labor shortage.

Conclusively, industry representatives emphasized rising meat prices result from the nationwide labor shortage, not the consolidation of the meat industry. “The Administration cannot ignore the fundamental principles of supply and demand,” stated North American Meat Institute’s (NIMA) Ann Potts.

The statement which sparked the ongoing back-and-forth came from US Department of Agriculture Secretary, Thomas Vilsack. He laid blame for inflation at the meat industry’s doorstep.

“Farmers are losing money on cattle, hogs and poultry that they’re selling at a time when consumers are seeing higher prices at the grocery store,” Vilsack began. “And there are now record profits or near-record profits for those in the middle.”

Inflation Accusations Caught Industry Leaders Off-Guard

Following Vilsack’s claims at last week’s press conference, NIMA’s Ann Potts stated the industry overall was caught entirely off guard. She explained that NIMA representatives met with officials from the White House Supply Chain Task Force and the USDA over the last three months.

Potts noted, “not once in any meeting did White House or USDA staff suggest consumer prices were rising because of industry structure.”

She also added to the statement. Prior to last week’s press conference, she claimed White House officials never contacted industry leaders to “raise concerns or discuss the issue.”

Potts addressed other issues following the industry’s scathing fireback to the Biden administration. Potts instead pointed to the real issue rocking industries across the country currently.

“Unfortunately, at the press conference the challenge of labor shortages was never acknowledged,” Potts added.

In addition, she added that none of the federal department’s name blaming will help in easing ongoing inflation. She stated, “Indeed, none of the proposals advanced at the press briefing will alleviate the consumer price increases the administration seeks to address.”

So, while the meat industry and the Biden administration continue their back-and-forth, Outsiders across the country persist among rapid inflation. Further, the White House has not addressed the statement so far.