WASHINGTON, DC - A Montana rancher gave lawmakers in Washington, D.C. an earful Tuesday as he spoke about the monopoly the nation's four largest meatpackers have on the industry — and the toll that's taking on Montanans.
Gilles Stockton lives in Grass Range and is also the president of the Montana Cattleman's Association. He spoke before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture and begged lawmakers to enact legislation to make the industry more competitive.
Four corporations currently control 85% of the cattle market, and Stockton says that's made it difficult for many ranchers to stay afloat. Stockton alleges those corporations are squeezing both ends of the supply changes, and he believes ranchers are being paid unsustainable prices.
He said in an interview that monopoly also has meant higher prices at the grocery store, "meat prices, I think, are out of line. I’m surprised consumers are still willing to buy any beef."
On Thursday, Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester will speak on the Senate floor about the consolidation of corporate agriculture. He'll also make his case for two bills to address the issues.