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The New York Times reports that in a post-pandemic world, rising beef prices are raising hackles among ranchers and eyebrows in Congress.

According to the story, the supply chain that forms the US cattle industry "is dominated by just four meatpacking conglomerates, and their profits are raising tensions. While diners at restaurants and shoppers in grocery stores experience sticker shock from sharply higher prices for ground beef and prime steaks, ranchers say they are barely breaking even or, in some cases, losing money.

"They point a finger at the Big Four companies, which account for more than 80 percent of the processed beef sold in the United States: Cargill, JBS, Tyson Foods and National Beef."

The Times writes that today, "the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing on transparency and pricing in the cattle market. The hearing follows numerous lawsuits filed in recent years by grocery chains, ranchers and others that claim the meatpackers have colluded to increase the price of beef by limiting supply. Some of the lawsuits have been dismissed, while others remain active. The industry has denied the allegations."

KC's View:

I have to wonder if one of the things that high beef prices could do is help grow the market for alternative protein products.  There is a point at which consumers simply will shut down, and the companies throughout the supply chain that sell beef have to be concerned about the possibility.