WASHINGTON, D.C. - A day after Congressman Comer sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for relief for cattle farmers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has announced plans to expand an existing investigation into beef price fixing to include the negative effects of the coronavirus on cattle prices.

Following a 2019 fire at a beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kansas, USDA announced an investigation into beef pricing margins to review potential evidence of price manipulation, collusion or restrictions on competition. As of late, retailers and meat packers had seen increased profits, while farmers have seen a decrease in the value of their cattle. This issue has been exacerbated due to COVID-19, as cattle prices continue to decline even at a time of strong retail demand for beef.

"Given the current market volatility caused by COVID-19, it is critical that our leaders examine any potential market manipulation hurting our farmers and then provide appropriate relief," Congressman Comer said. "I applaud USDA and Secretary Perdue for looking into this issue, which is very serious based on conversations I’ve had with Kentucky cattle farmers. We must ensure that cattle farmers share in increased demand brought about by their own hard work to keep the grocery shelves stocked, especially during this uncertain time for our economy."