Ranch group supports Trump order to keep packers operating

Responding to Tuesday’s executive order by President Donald J. Trump in which he invoked the Defense Production Act to declare meatpacking operations critical infrastructure that must remain open, the CEO of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America said the president’s action was necessary to prevent further collapse of the United States’ meat supply chain.

In a letter sent April 29 to Trump and congressional leaders, R-CALF USA’s Bill Bullard stated the current meat supply chain lacks resiliency and redundancy and threatens the food security interests of the United States. The letter stated this interest was "arguably the most vital of interests to all of America.

R-CALF USA, Billings, Montana, has urged congressional and regulatory reforms of the nation’s beef supply chain for decades, including in a 2013 South Dakota Law Review article in which it stated the industry underwent a period of "merger mania" from 1980 through 2010, resulting in just four major beef packers controlling 85% of all cattle raised specifically for beef production. R-CALF USA argued then that this level of concentration was the highest level of concentration of any industry in the U.S.

In the letter, the group urged a review to consider whether a physical and geographical restructuring of the meatpacking industry is required to disaggregate and decentralize beef processing capacity. It specifically urges the development of a strategic, national food production, processing and distribution policy that can meet America’s food security interests.

“Until this current crisis is over and the president and Congress can conduct such a review and develop such a strategic plan, our nation must administer triage to ensure that our highly centralized and concentrated beef processing system keeps providing our citizens with nutritious food. We simply must keep the current system running through this crisis," Bullard said. “And that is precisely what the president did and we support it.”