Ranchers Team up to Reclaim Control of Beef Industry: 'It Is Time We Fight Back'
Four companies have had a stranglehold on the beef industry since the 1970s
Ranchers across America are teaming up to build meat packing plants, according to Fox News.
For over 40 years, four companies have had a stranglehold on the beef industry by running slaughterhouses that process 80 percent of the country’s cattle.
In the 1970s, ranchers got 35 cents out of every dollar consumers spent on food, they now get just 14 cents.
The impact of consolidation became apparent this year when meatpacking giant JBS ceased operations at 13 plants after a cyberattack.
The company paid around $11 million in order to resume operations.
Rancher Rusty Kemp of Nebraska, along with others, decided it was time to quit complaining and start competing.
“We’ve been complaining about it for 30 years,” Kemp told Fox.
“It’s probably time somebody does something about it.”
This year, a dream that was $300 million in the making will be coming to fruition as construction begins on the sustainable Beef plant across 400 acres near North Platte, Nebraska.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said ranchers and consumers both win.
“Ranchers have been getting screwed long enough, it is time we fight back. This is how we do it, we go head to head with the big processors,” he said.
Kemp said the project would bring growth to the region.
“If we are going to grow this economy, it needs to be through added value agriculture,” Kemp said, according to KNOP-TV.
“We need to take the ag products we produce in Lincoln County and the surrounding area – the North Platte trade area, and add value to it. That’s how we grow our economy here.”
White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said profiteering had driven the price hikes for meat.
“It raises a concern about pandemic profiteering, about companies that are driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers who are going to the grocery store,” Deese said last month.
The CEO of Sustainable Beef, David Briggs, said the battle would not be easy.
“Cattle people are risk-takers, and they’re ready to take a risk,” Briggs told Fox News.
Chad Tentinger, who is working to unite cattle ranchers and build a Cattlemen’s Heritage plant near Council Bluffs, Iowa, said the big guys could be beaten.
“We want to revolutionize the plant and make it an attractive place to work,” he said.
An agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, Derrell Peel, said bigger plants historically have greater efficiency, thus lowering cost.
“We have these huge plants because they’re extremely efficient,” Peel said.
But Kemp said he would give it a try.
“The market is what it is, and it provides opportunities as well as challenges,” Kemp said, according to the North Platte Telegraph.