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White House puts politics ahead of protein, claims trade group

President Biden is wrong to paint the meat and poultry industry as a villain behind sharply higher grocery prices, said Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, in an essay published in a Maryland newspaper. “This administration has chosen to put politics above protein,” he wrote.

Consumer prices rose 7% during 2021, with chicken prices up 10.4% and meat prices up 14.8%. In the essay in the Salisbury (Maryland) Daily Times, Brown said the increase in chicken prices “is barely outpacing inflation — even despite major inputs like corn, soybeans, gasoline, packaging, and transportation increasing by double digits. Yet chicken producers are somehow the villain?”

Administration proposals to encourage new independent processors to go into business and to give producers more leverage with processors “will likely add costs, risk, and exacerbate the current market situation,” said Brown.

The meat industry also has denied culpability for rising beef and pork prices at the grocery story.

The North American Meat Institute, which speaks for meatpackers, said meat prices are up “because of labor shortages, greater consumer demand, supply chain problems, and other factors experienced by most sectors of the economy.”

Biden pointed to consolidation in the meat industry on Tuesday as a factor in high meat prices, saying, “You’ve got the Big Four [processors] controlling it all.”

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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