Ranchers Say Meat Packer Monopoly Threatens Their Way of Life and US Food Security Saying It’s ‘Extremely Serious’

The control of food supply is critical to national security, and the issue in itself. In South Dakota, where farming and cattle are key to the backbone of the state’s economy. The issue is taking center stage, especially with cattle ranchers.

There are about five heads of cattle for every person in South Dakota, which is a lot of beef. However cattle ranchers say the problem isn’t getting the meat to your plate, it’s that the meat packers are taking most of the profits.

“There’s four beef packers that control 85 percent of all the slaughter in the United States,” said Les Shaw, a fourth-generation cattle rancher in White Owl, South Dakota. “These four beef packers are recording profits of anywhere from $1,200 to as high as $2,000 a head during the pandemic whereas the rancher is at break-even, even a loss.”

Shaw says that raising beef cattle is great way of life, but lately, it’s not a great way to make a living because of these bullying meat processors and packers.

“We don’t do this to get rich. We do this because we love it,” Shaw said. “We’re proud of what my great grandfather, my grandfather, and my dad handed down to us. And there’s nothing that would make me happier than to be able to pass this on to my kids, my two girls,” he said.

Shaw also says the main problem is that the four major meat packers, two in the U.S and two in Brazil, have created a monopoly that controls the prices cattle ranchers get paid for their beef.

“The Brazilians have a hold in this market, our country let foreign investment into this country,” Shaw said. 

The following is from CBN:

The Four Major Meat Packers

The four major meat packers are: Tyson Foods, Cargill, and two Brazilian-owned corporations – National Beef Packing and J.B.S. In 1977, “the big four,” as they’re commonly called, owned just 25% of the market. Today, that’s exploded to 85% of all meat packing in America.

Cattle ranchers used to receive 62 cents for every consumer dollar spent on beef. Today, that’s dropped to less than 37 cents on the dollar – while the “big four” have tripled profits in the past two years alone.

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund is suing the four companies over accusations of manipulating prices. “We’ve alleged that they have conspired to artificially depress prices paid to U.S. cattle producers while simultaneously inflating the price of beef that consumers pay,” said Bill Bullard, C.E.O. of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA).

Bullard says the main problem is that ranchers aren’t told what price they’ll receive for their cattle until after it’s delivered to the packers. 

“This itself is anti-competitive and it has helped to purge competition from throughout the entire supply chain. So the solution has to be to restore competitive forces to the marketplace, and you do that by forcing the packers to begin competing competitively for cattle. And so, we have made recommendations to Congress, bills have been introduced, and extremely important is the fact that the meat packers can leverage down the American cattle farmer and ranchers prices by substituting their product with imported product,” Bullard said.

You can read more from our friends at CBN.

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