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Op-Ed: Meatpackers Are Biden’s Latest Inflation Scapegoat

This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal on January 9, 2022

President Biden has found a scapegoat for rising inflation: the meat industry. Mr. Biden claimed last week that meatpackers—who handle the processing, packaging and distribution of meat raised by farmers and ranchers—are price-gouging, driving a surge in consumer prices for beef, chicken and pork. As they say in cowboy country, Mr. Biden’s claim is all hat and no cattle. Unable or unwilling to acknowledge the problems actually driving inflation, Mr. Biden is proposing solutions based on the same failed policies that got us into this inflationary mess in the first place.

Meat prices are surging because the meat industry, like virtually every other industry, is facing dramatically higher input and labor costs. This isn’t a secret. Start with feed costs, which are at historic highs. As the Journal reported on Dec. 27, feed costs skyrocketed in 2021 and are expected to be volatile this year. This makes it more expensive to raise livestock, which in turn creates higher costs for meat.

Feed costs are higher in part because fertilizer costs are higher. American Farm Bureau Federation data show costs for anhydrous ammonia, used in nitrogen fertilizer, were up 210% in September 2021 compared with a year earlier.

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