A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Minnesota federal court that alleges that four large beef-packing companies and an industry information-sharing service have schemed to suppress the prices they pay for cattle and inflate the prices they charge consumers. The lawsuit names Cargill, Tyson Foods, National Beef Packing and JBS USA Food Co. — who collectively control 70% of U.S. beef processing — as defendants. Agri Stats Inc., a price forecasting service for beef, pork and poultry, is also named as a defendant.

The plaintiffs, a beef consumer in Wisconsin and one in Nevada, argue that the decoupling of the price of cattle and the retail price of beef is the result of price-fixing by the meatpacking companies, which boosted their profit margins in recent years. Cattle prices fell in 2015 and have not recovered, while the price of beef at the grocery store remained roughly constant.

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