MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Joe Biden is beginning the new year focused on rising meat prices as he tries to tackle inflation.
On Monday, he met virtually with farmers, ranchers and independent processors after announcing new actions aimed at lowering the price of meat.
"We're gonna ensure that you have the tools you need on the level playing you deserve and we're gonna fight for fair prices for American farmers, ranchers, and families, all three," he said.
The White House plans to distribute $1 billion of American Rescue Plan funding to expand and diversify the nation's meat processing capacity, in part, by helping producers address inspection costs, purchase more equipment and provide workplace training and safety.
"We're excited about being able to have local processing done by local people, and then sell directly to the consumer," said Scott Blubaugh, president of the Oklahoma Farmers Union.
The Biden administration is also proposing new rules to crack down on anti-competitive practices and to clarify the "Product of USA" label, which for now also applies to meat raised overseas and processed here in the U.S.
"Four big corporations control more than half the markets in beef, pork and poultry. Without meaningful competition, farmers and ranchers don't get to choose who they sell to," said Biden.
Federal data shows that food costs have soared nearly 7% since around this time last year, with beef prices up more than 20%.
The White House is also pushing Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to make cattle markets more transparent.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says $375 million in grants to expand and modernize independent processing facilities will be available this spring and summer.
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