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Beef Price Gouging?

For weeks, the Opposition Alberta NDP have alleged that Alberta meat packers may be receiving the benefits of aid packages designed for cattle farmers, resulting in consumer price gouging.

In facing increased criticism over its handling of mad cow crisis the Alberta Klein government annouced yesterday that it would have Auditor General Fred Dunn investigate it once and for all.

Canada's largest meat packers - Cargill, Lakeside and XL Foods - will appear before the House of Commons agriculture committee tomorrow to answer questions on why the retail beef price has remained unchanged while prices paid to cattle farmers have dropped substantially.

A draft report prepared for the Alberta Beef Industry Council, says that Alberta meat packers have seen their gross margins increase by 200% since last May and engaged in price fixing. It suggests the packers reduced the price they would pay for cattle by the amount of government aid. In total, Alberta farmers were entitled to $600-million.

The Canadian Meat Council, says the reason consumer price of beef has not dropped in line with prices paid to farmers is that the packing industry is suffering increased costs and depressed markets.


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