The US Department of Agriculture has requested US$1m from congress so that it can audit the four largest US beef packers to make sure they are submitting uniform financial information.

Cargill, Farmland Industries, Swift & Co and Tyson Foods are the four leading US beef packers, together accounting for 80% of beef slaughter in the US.

Beef packers are required to file annual financial reports with the USDA but the reports have not been audited. US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration would receive $1m to audit the four beef packers, as part of the USDA’s proposed budget for fiscal 2004.

Results of the audit would probably not be available until 2006, reported Reuters.