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Durbin Delivers Opening Statement at Judiciary Committee Hearing on Competition in Meat Supply Industry

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “Beefing up Competition: Examining America’s Food Supply Chain.”  The hearing analyzed competition concerns in the beef industry and food supply chain, and discussed policies to strengthen fair, transparent, and competitive marketplaces that benefit family farmers and ranchers and American consumers.

Key quotes:

“Today’s hearing is on competition and consolidation in America’s food supply chain, specifically in the beef industry.  Our witness panel includes representatives from farm to table, and from cow to consumer… We’ll have an important conversation about ensuring competitiveness and fairness in the marketplace for family farmers and ranchers, while also maintaining access to safe, healthy, [and] affordable food.”

“Over the past century, our agriculture sector has served as the foundation of the most productive and efficient food supply system on Earth.  That is the genius of American innovation.  Despite droughts, floods, pandemics, or other disruptions, we continue to produce an abundance of food, to not only feed our people but to feed the world.  Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic—where there have been problems with supplies, wasted crops, shifts in consumer spending—has shone a bright light into the cracks in our food system that must be addressed.”

“We’ll hear today about how the pricing system in [our] livestock markets must be structured to encourage quality and efficiency, but also to [be] fair, transparent, and competitive.  We must support food producers large and small.  [We should] start by addressing the barriers that prevent small farmers and livestock producers from thriving in the marketplace.”

“We’ll learn more about the dangers of consolidation and market concentration, especially in the beef processing industry where just four companies control about 80 percent of the national market.  There’ll be discussions about keeping business costs down.  But those efforts must also preserve and strengthen a safe environment and livable wages for workers.”

“This episode [JBS ransomware attack] demonstrated the vulnerability our food suppliers have when it comes to cyberattacks.  We have to take it seriously.  We need to make sure that American innovation has ensured that the fundamentals of our food supply remain strong—but there are still too many Americans for whom our food supply [chain] is not working.  Today, we will have an honest conversation on addressing these shortcomings.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.