Tuesday the U.S. Eight Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that three meat packers did not manipulate cattle prices in 2001 and told a district court to reverse its previous ruling and enter a judgment for the packers. Three independent cattle producers sued Cargill Meat Solutions, Swift & Co. (now JBS Swift Group) and Tyson Foods Inc. under Sections 202 (a) and (e) of the Packers & Stockyards Act.
At issue was a six-week period from April 2 to May 11, 2001, following the implementation of mandatory price reporting by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which USDA erroneously included "no-roll" beef in the beef cutout, effectively making the cutout lower valued than it was. Cattle feeders consequently marketed their cattle for less than they would have otherwise sold them because beef demand and prices seemed to have weakened.
In April 2006, Judge Charles Kornmann ruled in favor of the cattle producers and entered a judgment finding the packers several million dollars. The case was appealed to the circuit, which last week said the plaintiffs did not demonstrate that the packers "intentionally committed unlawful conduct," that would be necessary to violate the sections of the PSA. The circuit said it did not need to remand the case for a new trial because the "evidence was not sufficient to support the jury verdict."