Big Meat doing its thing (
by Dan Burns
Feb 25, 2024, 8:00 AM

So Target’s suing Cargill

I get a perverse chuckle out of this one.

Two Minnesota titans — hometown retailer Target and commodities giant Cargill — are squaring off in an ever-expanding antitrust lawsuit alleging price-gouging by the nation’s “Big 4″ beef producers.

Last week, Target joined dozens of plaintiffs, including Subway and Kroger’s, in an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Cargill, JBS, National Beef and Tyson. The meatpackers allegedly coordinated to reduce cattle slaughter volumes beginning in 2015 and continued reductions through the pandemic, generating “suspiciously high” beef prices and plenty of profits, according to the federal lawsuit…

The case is the latest salvo in a widespread legal campaign alleging the most powerful players in America’s beef, pork and poultry industries conspired to artificially raise prices. Some companies have agreed to settlements amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, but several cases are ongoing, including claims against pork suppliers like Minnesota-based Hormel Foods.

What provided me with the referenced cynical amusement is that this is a fine example of the hoary saying “the pot calling the kettle black.” Given Target’s own issues, and those with Big Retail in general. From 2022:

Some of the nation’s largest retailers have been using soaring inflation rates as an excuse to raise prices and rake in billions of dollars in additional profit, a corporate watchdog group charged on Friday…

Accountable.US said it examined the financial statements of the nation’s top 10 retailers over the past two years — including Lowe’s and Target — and found that they collectively increased their profits by $24.6 million for a grand total of $99 billion…

The report notes, among other examples, that Lowe’s recorded $8.4 billion in profit in its most recent quarter as it touted its “new pricing strategies.” TJX, parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods, saw last year’s profits soar to $3.3 billion as the CEO spoke about the company’s “aggressive” price increases. Target boosted its profits to $6.9 billion in 2021, in a year its CEO touted “a year of record growth.”
(CBS News)

(As an aside, in legal terms price “gouging” isn’t really correct here. The term is supposed to refer to arbitrarily raising prices after a natural disaster. Until last year Minnesota was one of a small number of states that didn’t even have a law prohibiting that on the books, presumably because we don’t have earthquakes and/or hurricanes. But since everyone seems to be using price “gouging” in a more expansive way, I’m quite content to do so as well. Phrasing like “criminal fraud on a continuous, massive scale” probably is too much of a mouthful.)

Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing these corporations going after each other in this way, because of the publicity it draws to the realities of the issue. I especially like who the defendants are here. Though I know it’s not changing anything for real one of the pleasures I get from being vegetarian is that it’s my own little way of “sticking it” to Big Ag, especially Big Meat. I regard Big Ag as among the very worst of the Bigs, and I certainly don’t say that lightly.

But what’s really needed is federal law enforcement going after the pathological greedhead narcissists running these companies. Really, seriously going after them, for a change.

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