USDA: Probe launched over beef pricing after Kansas fire

Photo courtesy USDA/MGN

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The U.S. Agriculture Department says it has launched an investigation to determine whether there is any beef price manipulation, collusion or other unfair practices after the fire at the Tyson beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kan.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Wednesday that as part of efforts to monitor the fire's impact, he has directed the department's Packers and Stockyards Division to examine recent beef pricing margins. Perdue says in a statement if unfair practices are found, it will take quick enforcement action.

The price of live cattle has fallen since the Aug. 9 fire, while wholesale beef prices have risen.

Industry experts say the Holcomb plant processed about 6,000 cattle a day, about 6% of all the cattle processed in the United States.

Tyson plans to reopen the plant.