A New Jersey congressman is pushing 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. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, said Congress this week will vote on a series of measures that are designed to help families lower their grocery bills.

He said he’s co-sponsoring the bipartisan Meat and Poultry Special Investigators Act “directing the Department of Agriculture to appoint a special investigator to strictly enforce price-fixing laws on the books for the meat packing industry.”

Gottheimer pointed out the U.S. Department of Justice is currently prosecuting 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 that last month a congressional subcommittee report found meat packing companies falsified claims of an impending meat shortage “and actually had millions of pounds set aside for storage and export contracts.”

Crackdown on insane profits

“We need to immediately take action against any meat or poultry companies that have or continue to collude, and are making insane huge profits on the backs of our hardworking families," Gottheimer said. "If a company is found to be price-fixing or colluding to jack up the cost of meat or poultry, then the special investigator must promptly take action and punish the companies and individuals involved.”

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cow (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

“Monopolists that collude to corner a market aren’t capitalists, they’re crooks” and this (legislation) will help to generate much-needed competition in the meat and poultry industry, and help to lower prices," 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 the Agriculture and Food Supply Chains Act, designed to help get more goods faster to grocery store shelves.

Un-clog pinch-points

Gottheimer said the legislation requires the USDA to “identify breakdowns bottlenecks and pinch-points in the food and agriculture supply chain, and report back to Congress with immediate actions.”

He also said it’s imperative we identify which livestock and meat producers need assistance in jump-starting the supply chain and get meat moving.

Help family farms

Gottheimer said we also must do more to support small and medium-sized agriculture producers.

Prices For U.S. Food Staples Rise Steeply
Getty Images

“It’s easy to forget that much of our produce comes from family-owned farms across our nation, including right here in my district in Sussex and Warren County,” he said. “We need to take aggressive action to get food and gas prices down for families and small businesses, help fuel the impact of the post COVID-19 economy that we’re grappling with right now.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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