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Inflation: President Biden meets with farmers, ranchers amid effort to reduce prices

Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith discusses White House talks with farmers amid inflated meat prices and efforts to combat prices rising higher.

Video Transcript


KARINA MITCHELL: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. Well, President Biden meeting with US farmers at the White House today, set to announce plans to combat the dominance of big ag and anti-competitive pricing. Meatpacking cor-- four meatpacking corporations control more than 80% of US beef processing capacity in this country. Here with more is Finance's, Jessica Smith. And Jessica, the timing is very interesting on this as we're in a midterm election year and as grocery prices are skyrocketing.

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, this comes as the White House is facing a lot of pressure over inflation in recent months. The White House has been trying to push efforts to encourage competition and bring down prices. And the White House argues that the lack of competition in the meat and poultry industry is hurting consumers. So today the administration is taking some steps to attempt to bring down prices for consumers and stop large companies from squeezing out small businesses as the White House puts it.

The president is meeting virtually today with some farmers and ranchers and independent processors from around the country to talk about what they're dealing with and the White House plan that they are announcing today. The administration says it's dedicating $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to help those independent meat and poultry processors. That money will go towards grants for independent processing plants, loans for smaller processors, training for meat and poultry workers, reducing inspection costs on small processing plants, and more.

The White House will also strengthen rules it says will protect farmers and ranchers and consumers, including clarifying product of USA labeling standards. And the administration will work with Congress to make cattle markets fairer and more transparent the White House says. And they argue again that meatpackers have outsized power in setting prices. And then finally, the president is announcing a new effort to allow farmers and ranchers to report unfair and anti-competitive practices in their sectors. The White House fact sheet announcing these steps said, quote, "Our overreliance on just a handful of giant processors leaves us all vulnerable with any disruption on these bottlenecks rippling through our food system."

So more broadly, the president has really criticized big corporations for the rising prices. He's talked about the need for cracking down on anti-competitive practices to help bring prices down. You'll remember the president asked the FTC to look into oil and gas companies to see if they were doing anything improper to push up energy prices. So this is really something that the White House wants to get under control. We are expecting this meeting to start any time now.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Hey, Jess, do you have a rundown as to who's going to be attending that meeting today?

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, it's going to be some smaller family farmers and ranchers that the president is going to be talking to today. Really hearing what they're dealing with, what they'd like to see, and then explaining more of the steps that the White House is planning to take today.

KARINA MITCHELL: All right, we will leave it there. Jessica Smith, thank you so much for that.