Helping Lower Grocery Costs for Families, Secure Food Supply Chain, Support Local Farms
Taking on Poultry Monopolies and Price Fixing
Above: Gottheimer at the Goffle Road Poultry Farm with owners Joseph and Brian Silvestri.
WYCKOFF, NJ — As part of his Affordability Agenda for Jersey, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) visited Goffle Road Poultry Farm — a fourth-generation family-owned and -operated poultry processing center — to announce a new federal investment that will help lower grocery costs, secure the food supply chain, and support local farms by increasing processing capacity at the facility by 300%.
Goffle Road Poultry Farm serves as the only USDA-certified poultry processing plant available to local farmers in New Jersey. Now, thanks to the increased processing capacity from this new federal investment secured through the American Rescue Plan — legislation Gottheimer helped craft and pass — local Jersey farms will be able to lower costs and stop shipping their poultry to processing plants as far as the Midwest. Furthermore, not having to transport their livestock as far will lower the turnaround time of our farmers’ poultry to market, keeping poultry fresher and more affordable for families.
“Today, a lot of hard work is paying off as we announce a critical new federal investment clawed back here from Washington to North Jersey for one of our very own small family businesses, which will help our local economy, lower costs for families, make life more affordable, and address what I’ve been talking about for some time – the monopoly in the poultry processing world that’s driven up the cost of turkey and chicken,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Thanks to the increased processing capacity from this new federal investment, which was secured through the American Rescue Plan — legislation I was proud to help craft and pass — local Jersey farms will be able to lower costs and stop shipping their poultry to processing plants as far as the Midwest — securing Jersey’s food supply chain.”
In June, as part of his Affordability Agenda for Jersey, Gottheimer helped pass bipartisan legislation in the House to help lower the cost of a family’s grocery bill, tackle rising food and gas prices, address the supply chain crisis, and take action against any meat or poultry companies that are colluding or price gouging to make profits on the backs of hard-working middle class families.
Gottheimer was joined by USDA Rural Development New Jersey State Director Jane Asselta, NJ Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher, Bergen County Commissioner Chairwoman Tracy Zur, Bergen County Commissioners Mary Amoroso and Germaine Ortiz, Wyckoff Mayor Rudolf E. Boonstra, and Goffle Road Poultry Farm owners Joseph Silvestri and Brian Silvestri.
Below: Gottheimer at Goffle Road Poultry Farm announcing new federal investment.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today, a lot of hard work is paying off as we announce a critical new federal investment clawed back from Washington to North Jersey for one of our very own small, family businesses, which will help our local economy and address what I’ve been talking about for some time — the monopoly in the poultry processing world that’s driven up the cost of turkey and chicken for too many families. Big chicken is controlled by four major processors — we need more local processors like Goffle Road Poultry Farm — and it’s why we are here today.
Here in Jersey, ever since COVID stretched the global supply chains, and the war in Ukraine added to fuel and food costs, it’s been significantly harder for grocers to get the goods they need. And it’s impacted prices for consumers at the grocery store.
Another underlying issue, which I’ve addressed as part of my Affordability Agenda for Jersey, is that the top meat and poultry processors in the United States, which control a significant portion of the national marketplace, have inexplicably and usuriously jacked up their prices since the beginning of the pandemic. That meant a real hit on families.
My Affordability Agenda for Jersey also includes action to lower prescription drug costs, which we’ve done, and to claw more money back from Washington to invest in our communities and lower property taxes — we’re now up 357 percent. I’ve also called for an All-of-the-Above approach to energy — to increase our domestic capacity and invest in alternative energy to help lower gas prices — and we’ve paid down the debt $300 billion.
So for our food, how do we help alleviate those prices? One key way is that we need more local growers and processors like Goffle, so that the marketplace isn’t just controlled by a small, concentrated group. Competition is key to getting prices down — and to quality food.
Earlier this year, at my agriculture roundtable at the State Fair with Bergen, Sussex, and Warren County farmers, we discussed this very issue and what we could do about it.
Today, we’re taking concrete action to support our local family farms, encourage more regional processing to compete with the oligopoly of big poultry, support our local economy, create jobs, and lower prices for families.
According to Goffle, the new federal investment we are announcing today will increase the processing capacity of Goffle Farm — the only USDA certified poultry processing plant available to local farmers in New Jersey — by 300 percent! This investment will allow Goffle Farm to expand its USDA processing facility and retail operation to be more efficient and more productive. It will also boost competition, support smaller and local Jersey producers, strengthen our food supply chain for our families, increase economic opportunity across our state, and, most importantly, help lower food prices.
Earlier this year, when increased prices hit consumers, I took action by working to pass the bipartisan Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act package in the House, which included the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act.
This legislation will help lower the cost of a family’s grocery bill, tackle rising food and gas prices, address the supply chain crisis, and take action against any meat or poultry companies that are colluding or price gouging to make profits on the backs of hard-working middle class families. Like big chicken, the top four beef processing plants in the country control 82 percent of the market. Meat packer profits are up 300 percent since COVID began — that’s outrageous. And the cattle ranches aren’t getting 300 percent more — it’s blatant collusion between the top four processors and they are squeezing out the little guy. The Goffle Farms of the world.
Let me be clear: monopolists that collude to corner a market aren’t capitalists. They’re crooks.
In May, a report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found that meat companies falsified claims of an impending meat shortage and actually had millions of pounds set aside for storage and export contracts.
In February, Brazilian meatpacker JBS — the largest meat processing company in the world — and its U.S. affiliates agreed to pay $52.5 million to settle litigation alleging that the company and other packing giants colluded to drive up the price of beef. We’ve asked the FTC and Department of Justice to investigate further.
In Jersey, we’re fortunate to have a hardworking, caring, and family-owned and operated fourth-generation business like this one. Their mission statement says it all: providing the highest quality product at the lowest possible cost. They also strive to treat their animals humanely, while observing strict state and federal policies in the processing of their birds.
Thanks to the increased processing capacity from this new federal investment, which was secured through the American Rescue Plan — legislation I was proud to help craft and pass — local Jersey farms will be able to save their hard-earned money and stop shipping their poultry to processing plants as far as the Midwest — securing Jersey’s food supply chain.
Not having to transport their livestock as far by using a local processor will lower the turnaround time of our farmers’ poultry to market, keeping poultry fresher and more affordable for families. Furthermore, we’ll be able to help more local farmers sell goods outside of the state by increasing access to USDA-inspected poultry processing that allows producers to participate in interstate commerce. This gives our family farms access to more customers and helps them compete with the big meat companies.
All of this will help boost competition, sustain and create new jobs right here, strengthen our food supply chain, and — in turn — help lower costs on food and groceries for families. This is a win-win-win.
Clawing back federal investment like this to help us here is vital. When I was first elected to Congress nearly six years ago, I realized that we were leaving gobs of federal grants, equipment, and other dollars on the table every year for the simple reason that we weren’t applying — and you didn’t have a Member of Congress who was willing to fight for those dollars.
Instead, they went to Moocher States like Mississippi and Alabama — they got millions in grants to help pay for things like fire trucks — and we usually didn’t. There are all of these grant programs out there for everything from security grants to protect churches and temples; and investments to better equip, recruit, and pay our first responders; and, historically, we just hadn’t applied for many of them. And the person in my seat didn’t push for them.
So, the Moocher States got lots of relief on their local and property taxes — and we paid retail.
However, by working with mayors, councils, first responders, colleges, nonprofits, and religious institutions, we are now up more than 357 percent in our federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington.
Grants like this one are critical to making life more affordable for North Jersey families. By clawing back taxpayer dollars, we’re helping lower the price of goods at the grocery store and alleviate the burden on our towns, helping cut property taxes, and protect our firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, and our families.
Working together, Democrats and Republicans, to make life more affordable and support our North Jersey communities, here in the greatest country in the world, I know that our best days will always be ahead of us. Thank you and God bless you.
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