By JOSH BOAK and DARLENE SUPERVILLE
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has met virtually with independent farmers and ranchers to discuss initiatives to reduce food prices by increasing competition within the meat industry. Biden says, “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism — it’s exploitation.” But an executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the coronavirus and higher costs for energy and labor are driving meat prices higher, not the corporate structure of the industry. Higher-than-expected inflation has thwarted Biden’s agenda and hurt his public approval rating. It’s become fodder for Republican attacks and has led a Democrat senator to cite higher prices as a reason to sideline Biden’s tax, social and economic programs.