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R-CALF disputes sheep market probe

By South Dakota Ag Connection

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration issued the report on its investigation of the U.S. sheep market to determine if concentrated meatpackers had manipulated the U.S. lamb market.

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The 14-page investigative report concludes that meatpackers did not manipulate the lamb market. Instead, it concluded that other factors led both to the increase in lamb prices that occurred throughout 2010 and up until mid-2011 and the long-term decrease in lamb prices from mid-2011 throughout all of 2012.

The reports states that “many market factors interacted to cause the sharp increase and subsequent decrease in lamb prices … [and] [t]he cost of imported lamb was likely the most important factor.”

R-CALF USA Sheep Committee Chair Bill Kluck, of Mud Butte, said his group was already aware that unlimited imports were causing damage to the United States’ commercial sheep industry, and he is disappointed that the USDA failed to acknowledge ongoing problems in the sheep market caused by meatpacker market power.