The fire, which took place earlier this month, has led to falling cattle prices, placing producers under pressure, while retail prices have risen.
In a statement Perdue said: “As part of our continued efforts to monitor the impact of the fire at the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kansas, I have directed USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division to launch an investigation into recent beef pricing margins to determine if there is any evidence of price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition or other unfair practices.
“If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action. USDA remains in close communication with plant management and other stakeholders to understand the fire’s impact to industry. I have spent this summer visiting with cattle ranchers across the country, and I know this is a difficult time for the industry as a whole. USDA is committed to ensuring support is available to ranchers who work hard to the feed the United States and the world.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Jennifer Houston issued the following statement regarding the investigation announcement.
"Today’s announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue demonstrates the government’s understanding of the extreme strain placed on the cattle industry by the plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas,” she said.
"We encourage USDA to look at all aspects of the beef supply chain and to utilize internal and external expertise in this investigation. We believe it adds transparency that will help build confidence in the markets among cattlemen and women."
Since the fire, Tyson has pledged to rebuild the plant and has promised to “take care of team members and their families”.