A cattle ranchers’ trade association filed a class action in federal court in Illinois accusing meatpackers including industry powerhouses Tyson, JBS SA, Cargill and National Beef Packing Co. of conspiring to keep down cattle prices. The complaint alleges the meatpackers are seeking to push the cattle industry toward the level of consolidation already seen in poultry processing.
The complaint alleges that the Big Four meatpackers control more than 80% of the market for the cattle and that to keep prices down, the meatpackers engage in several practices, including periodically agreeing to reduce their outputs so there’s less demand for ranchers’ product.
The complaint contains claims for violations of the Sherman Act, as well as the Packers and Stockyards Act and the Commodity Exchange Act. It also notes that JBS and Tyson are currently facing multidistrict litigation alleging a conspiracy to manipulate broiler chicken and pork prices.
In addition to the trade association, the suit also names ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming as plaintiffs. It seeks to represent a class of ranchers that have sold fed cattle to the meatpackers since 2015, as well as a class of traders that transacted in live cattle futures or options.
The case is Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America et al. v. Tyson Foods, Inc. et al., case number 1:19-cv-02726, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
This blog is intended to provide information to the general public and to practitioners about developments that may impact Oregon class actions.