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New Report on Impacts of COVID and Tyson Plant Fire on Beef Industry

A new USDA report examines how a 2019 fire at a Tyson beef packing plant in Kansas and the COVID-19 pandemic caused beef prices to rise.

A new report released by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on Wednesday provides an examination of the economic impacts of a fire at a Tyson beef packing plant in Kansas in 2019 and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The closure of the Tyson beef packing plant in Holcomb, KS, after a fire at the facility, and the COVID-19 pandemic clearly disrupted the markets and processing systems responsible for the production and sale of U.S. beef,” said US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in an agency release. “The report examines these economic disruptions and the significant increase in the spread between boxed beef and fed cattle prices that resulted from them. While we’re pleased to provide this update, we assure producers that our work continues in order to determine if there are any violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action.”

AMS’ “Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation” report provides insights on market conditions, fed cattle prices, boxed beef values and the spread prior to and after the blaze halted operations at the Tyson beef plant in Holcomb. The agency also presents a similar data set for before and after the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“In the weeks and months after both events, the difference – or spread – between the Choice boxed beef cutout values and dressed fed cattle prices rose to record levels,” the authors wrote in the report’s introduction.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue ordered AMS to initiate an investigation into the impacts of the two events on the fed cattle and beef market to determine whether regulated entities were involved in price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition, and other violations of regulations.

To view the full report, click here.

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