American Cattle Ranchers Go Broke as Corporate Meatpackers Consolidate 85 Percent of Beef Market

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

American cattle ranchers, many operating family-owned businesses that have withstood generations, are facing bankruptcy as concentrated corporate power in the meatpacking industry squeezes their profits.

In interviews with the New York Times, ranchers said the corporate meatpackers that dominate the beef market — Tyson Foods, Cargill, the National Beef Packing Company, and JBS — are pushing them into insolvency and out of the market entirely.

The four meatpacking conglomerates once owned 35 percent of the market. Today, their share of the market stands at 85 percent as presidential administrations and Congress have been unwilling to step in with antitrust maneuvers, once readily used to break up corporate monopolies.

“We are contemplating getting out,” rancher Steve Charter told the Times. “We are not getting our share of the consumer dollars.”

Even as inflation has sent beef prices skyrocketing for American consumers, the ranchers say their share of the $66 billion industry has been transferred to the corporate meatpackers whom they say are controlling prices within the industry.

“Their goal is to control the market so that they can control the price,” Marion Nestle, an expert on the issue at New York University, told the Times. “The pandemic exposed the consequences of the consolidation of the meat industry.”

Some ranchers say they have not turned a profit in five years. At the same time, corporate meatpacker JBS — which is owned by Brazilian billionaires Wesley and Joesley Batista — has raked in $18 billion in revenues from July to September of this year. The revenues represent a 32 percent increase compared to the same time the year before.

Unmentioned by the Times is that former President Obama, with the help of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, ended nation-of-origin labeling for beef and pork products sold in the United States market following pressure from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The corporate meatpackers, including Tyson, railed against the nation-of-origin labeling rules as did the American Farm Bureau Federation which represents Big Agriculture.

“You’re raised a farmer, and that’s what you’re supposed to do,” 38-year-old Coy Young, a fifth-generation rancher, told the Times. “It’s my family legacy. It’s like I’m losing my image as a man.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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