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USDA fines Cargill $12.5 million for grading flaws


Cargill, a leading figure in the agricultural sector, has come to a $12.5 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over claims of underpaying cattle sellers.  

This decision comes after it was revealed that faulty grading cameras led to the inaccurate assessment of over 300,000 carcasses across four processing plants from August 2021 to March 2022. These inaccuracies were primarily due to the cameras not meeting the installation standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

Upon discovering the issue in March 2022, Cargill promptly reported the problem to the USDA and by May 2022, made restitution to all affected sellers. In addition to the settlement, the company is required to correct its grading practices and ensure compliance with national standards.  

The USDA also imposed a civil penalty of $155,000 on the company for failing to meet the required grading standards. 

This enforcement action underscores the USDA's dedication to maintaining fair competition and protecting stakeholders in the agricultural sector under the Packers and Stockyards Act.  

The case against Cargill serves as a reminder of the critical role accurate grading plays in the integrity and fairness of the meat processing and cattle selling industries. It highlights the government's efforts to safeguard fair trading practices and ensure that the agricultural market operates in a transparent and just manner.

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