Representing Cattle Ranchers in Class Action Alleging That Major Meatpacking Companies Conspired to Suppress Prices for Fed Cattle
In re Cattle Antitrust Litigation, 19-cv-01222 (D. Minn.)
Robins Kaplan serves as the court-appointed lead liaison counsel on behalf of a proposed class of cattle ranchers and industry trade groups alleging that some of the country’s largest meatpacking companies, including Tyson, Cargill, JBS, and National Beef, have colluded to suppress the prices paid for cattle used in beef production (“fed cattle”). As discussed in a recent National Law Journal article, a successful outcome in this matter would ensure that cattle ranchers are paid what they deserve for their labor in raising live-fed cattle and bringing them to market.
According to the suit, the conspiracy to suppress fed cattle prices has been running in the United States from at least January 1, 2015, through the present, harming domestic producers of fed cattle. Defendants’ alleged coordinated conduct — including slashing respective slaughter volumes and curtailing purchases of fed cattle in the cash cattle market — precipitated an unprecedented collapse in fed cattle prices in 2015.
While meatpackers have experienced record profits in recent years, American ranchers have suffered. This lawsuit alleges that ranchers have not shared in those profits because the prices they receive for selling live-fed cattle to packers are suppressed, due to collusion. Almost a year after filing this lawsuit, 11 state attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for an investigation into suspected price fixing by meat packers in the cattle industry. The work of Robins Kaplan and its co-counsel has also spurred follow-on antitrust investigations by the DOJ.
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