Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Vice Chair of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the USDA, sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue renewing her calls for an investigation into hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to Brazilian-owned meatpacker JBS.

“In light of a now-proven pattern of criminal conduct, I write to request the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiate suspension and debarment proceedings against JBS USA, the U.S. subsidiary of the Brazilian-owned and controlled meatpacker JBS SA, and each of its companies, including but not limited to Pilgrim’s Pride,” wrote Congresswoman DeLauro. “This relevant corruption and illegal behavior are directly related to the company’s entry to and consolidation of the United States meatpacking sector.”

DeLauro’s letter comes after separate announcements by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following their investigations into J&F Investimentos, the parent company of JBS USA. On October 14, 2020, DOJ announced that J&F Investimentos pled guilty to violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the SEC announced that J&F Investimentos and JBS SA have agreed to pay nearly $27 million to settle charges related to an extensive bribery scheme.

Given these findings, DeLauro questions the millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies the company has received through USDA programs.

“As part of USDA’s so-called ‘trade aid package,’ JBS has received more than $100 million dollars in payments – assistance that was supposed to have been for struggling farmers and ranchers who have been hurt by the Administration’s failed trade policies,” continued Congresswoman DeLauro. “But, many fail to realize the full extent of the USDA subsidies JBS has received. Unlike farmers and ranchers, JBS also receives payments, as procurement contracts, on an annual basis through the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. In fact, U.S. taxpayers have subsidized JBS with hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several years.”

In September 2019, DeLauro pressed for transparency of USDA’s $28 billion trade aid program. Complying with a Congressional mandate included in September’s continuing resolution, USDA provided the Appropriations Committee with details on the distribution of trade aid payments made in 2018. These documents revealed that JBS received awards totaling more than $90 million in trade aid payments that had initially been described as assistance for struggling American farmers and ranchers.

Following this revelation, DeLauro then urged Secretary Perdue to investigate whether JBS’ extensive corruption violated the requirements to be a USDA contractor. When Secretary Perdue declined to act, DeLauro took her concerns directly to the USDA Office of Inspector General.

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.

Source: Office of Congresswoman DeLauro