A New Jersey congressman is proposing a plan to hold the line on supermarket price increases, especially for items like meat, poultry and produce.
During a visit to a ShopRite supermarket in the borough of Emerson on Monday, U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer, DN.J. 5th District, said Congress will vote this week on a series of measures designed to help families lower their grocery bills.
He said he was co-sponsoring the bipartisan Meat and Poultry Special Investigators Act “directing the Department of Agriculture to appoint a special investigator to strictly enforce on-the-book pricing laws for the industry meat packaging”.
Gottheimer pointed out that the US Department of Justice is currently pursuing a case involving poultry companies conspiring to drive up the price of chicken, and lawsuits are pending against price fixing in the pork and beef sectors.
He said a Congressional subcommittee report last month found that meatpacking companies had falsified claims of a looming meat shortage “and actually set aside millions of pounds. for storage and export contracts”.
The repression of senseless profits
“We must immediately take action against any meat or poultry companies that have, or continue to collude, and make huge, crazy profits on the backs of our hard-working families,” Gottheimer said. “If a company is found to be price-fixing or colluding to increase the price of meat or poultry, the special investigator must take prompt action and punish the companies and individuals involved.
“Monopolists who conspire to corner a market are not capitalists, they are crooks” and this (legislation) will help generate much needed competition in the meat and poultry industry and help bring down price,” he said.
He pointed out that as the ongoing war in Ukraine continues to disrupt grain supplies around the world, he is co-sponsoring the bipartisan Strengthening Agriculture and Food Supply Chains Act, designed to help move more goods hit the grocery store shelves faster.
Unclog pinch points
Gottheimer said the legislation requires the USDA to “identify bottlenecks and pinch points in the food and agriculture supply chain, and report to Congress with immediate actions.”
He also said it was imperative to identify livestock and meat producers who need help to get the supply chain moving again and the meat moving forward.
Help family farms
Gottheimer said we also need to do more to support small and medium agricultural producers.
“It’s easy to forget that so much of our produce comes from family farms across our country, including right here in my district of Sussex and Warren County,” he said. “We must take aggressive action to bring down food and gas prices for families and small businesses, to help fuel the impact of the post-COVID-19 economy we are currently facing.”
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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