25 March 1998
USDA steps up beef buying

CATTLE producers welcomed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to spend a further $30 million (£17.9m) buying up beef-related product this year because of a slump in beef prices.

USDA is also proposing to increase regulatory oversight and price reporting requirements to protect against unfair trade practices resulting from concentration in the processing industry.

Cattle producers say the extra cash will give domestic cattle a much-needed boost during a high volume sales period. The US beef sector has seen a slump in exports over the past six months at a time when supplies are at near-record levels and herd sizes are only just beginning to be scaled down.

Food scares at home and abroad have compounded the problems and red meats share of an average diet is in long-term decline.

The beef the Government buys will be distributed through food banks and charitable organisations as part of the federal food assistance programme.

  • Financial Times 25/03/98 page 8