Smithfield Foods has agreed to pay a $42 million settlement addressing allegations over pork price-fixing. The lawsuit accused the company of inflating pork prices by limiting hog supplies and incflating pork prices over more than 20 years.
Other companies named in the lawsuit include Hormel, Tyson Foods, Seaboard Foods, Triumph Foods, and AgriStats – decisions are still pending on these groups. Restaurant companies filed the suit on the meat processors who control 70 percent of pork production.
Smithfield Foods has settled in a previous suit for $83 million, admitting no wrongdoing, although they are accused of using private information from reports to allegedly control supply and pricing.
A Minnesota federal judge will hold a hearing in October to approve the settlement; however, preliminary approvals were given in April. Other lawsuits are pending with beef packing plants and poultry packing plants.
These lawsuits fall on the heels of the Biden Administration’s efforts to bolster competition in meat industries to reduce food prices. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice and Agriculture created a form where farmers and ranchers can report concerns about price-fixing and other anti-competitive actions.
In February, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “When we talk about protecting competition in the agricultural sector, we are talking about whether a farmer or a rancher will be paid a fair and competitive price for their goods and labor. When we talk about protecting consumers in this context, we are talking about whether food will be affordable for everyone in America. Today’s launch of farmerfairness.gov — a one-stop shop to report potential violations of our competitions laws – will allow the Justice Department and USDA to collaborate early and ensure economic opportunity and fairness for all.”