For many in Tennessee, the continuing increase in prices of beef may mean they are making alternate choices for dinner. However, for those who work in the cattle and beef industries, watching the prices of their products is a critical part of their livelihood. Recently, farmers and ranchers have accused the major meat packing companies of intentionally manipulating the market to drive their profits down. Several of these farmers and ranchers have joined in mass torts actions.
The lawsuit claims that Tyson Foods and three other meat processors have conspired to depress the price of cattle by lowering the number of cattle they purchase and slaughter for meat. They also suspect the companies have closed some slaughtering plants so they would have to transport cattle a longer distance and pay less for them. Independent ranchers and small farmers are apparently going out of business because of the dropping prices for the sale of their cattle.
The four meat processing companies, which process about 80% of fed cattle across the country, including in Tennessee, deny the claims. Nevertheless, representatives of the ranchers say they have witness accounts and other evidence to support their accusations. The complaint says the big four companies have worked together to drive prices down for ranchers, causing years of financial loss and placing the cattle industry in jeopardy.
Fair trade is the cornerstone of a healthy U.S. marketplace. When companies artificially manipulate the market for their own gain, other businesses suffer. No matter how this case may play out, those who are struggling because of antitrust law violations may wish to learn about their options, including the possibility for mass torts actions.