R-CALF USA has filed a class action suit alleging that the nation’s four largest beef packers violated U.S. antitrust laws, the Packers and Stockyards Act and the Commodity Exchange Act by unlawfully depressing the prices paid to American ranchers.
The complaint names Tyson Foods, Inc., JBS S.A. Cargill, National Beef Packing Company, and certain of their affiliates, who collectively purchase and process more than 80 percent of the nation’s fed cattle — that is cattle raised specifically for beef production — annually.
The suit seeks to recover losses suffered by cattle producers who sold cattle to any of the Big 4 from January 2015 to the present and traders who bought or sold live cattle futures or options contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the same period.
R-CALF says the suit is supported by witness accounts, including a former Big 4 employee, trade records, and economic evidence showing that the companies depressed prices on average by 7.9 percent since January 2015.
"R-CALF USA is taking this historic action to fulfill its promise to its members to prevent the Big 4 packers from capturing the U.S. cattle market from independent U.S. cattle producers," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, adding "we have exhausted all other remedies but now, with the expert help of Scott+Scott and Cafferty Clobes, our members' concerns will be addressed and we hope U.S. cattle ranchers can be compensated for years of significant losses."
David Scott, managing partner of Scott+Scott, said the impact of the packers’ conduct on American cattle ranchers has been catastrophic.
"The health and integrity of the American cattle industry is being permanently and irrevocably damaged, independent ranchers are systematically being driven out of business, and consumers are losing the ability to buy high-quality American beef with confidence."
Anthony Fata, partner at Cafferty Clobes, added that the impact on investors has been substantial as well.
“It is imperative for investors to maintain confidence in this vital financial market, relied upon by ranchers, traders and others to manage the risks associated with their businesses."