WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2012 – Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester applauded the opening of a USDA investigation into possible manipulation of the lamb market today. The senators first requested the investigation into lamb meatpackers, authorized under the Packers and Stockyards Act, in October of this year.

“Agriculture supports one in five Montana jobs, which is why we simply can't afford to stand back while large meatpacking companies stack the deck against our sheep producers,” Senator Baucus said in a statement today.  “I'm glad we got the ear of the USDA and will keep fighting to make sure everyone is playing by the rules.  Fighting for a level playing field will make sure our Montana sheep producers can compete and thrive.”

The senators’ call comes after a year of striking price drops on the lamb market – prices for the meat in September 2012 are less than half of what they were a year earlier. “Although it is not unusual for commodity and livestock prices to fluctuate,” the senators wrote in their October letter to Secretary Vilsack, “the recent dramatic price drop in the lamb market appears to be an anomaly when considering normal market fluctuations.”