Rather than supporting our own U.S. cattle producers and local/regional meat plants, beef from other countries is receiving preference from USDA and big food companies. Below-cost-of-production imported beef is blended with cheap fat from over-fed cattle, and Lean Finely Textured Beef (aka pink slime), a low-cost ammonia washed byproduct of boxed beef, is added at around 10 to 12 percent of final weight.
The blended product appears as “Product of the USA” on the price lists of food service companies and big processors selling to big-box retailers, restaurants, institutions, including fast food, retirement homes, schools, hospitals, food banks, etc., at below $2.50 per pound. It’s roughly half the cost of the high quality domestically produced ground beef from local/regional plants, leaving the small plants which the Biden administration claims to support, to go broke, drowning in their beef trim.
There are many meat companies across the country selling this cheap burger blend, replacing the higher cost, and far higher quality product from local/regional processors.
See the following note from a food manager who works with retirement communities on the Front Range of Colorado:
Here’s some pricing on ground beef. Facilities typically go with the cheapest option. I highlighted a few that are commonly purchased:
In 1998 a DNA analysis showed 1082 animals were represented in a typical fast food quarter-pound burger patty. It would most likely be more today as sourcing has become more global and processing is more centralized and concentrated.
Following the pandemic food system collapse, the Biden administration pledged to support more sustainable, and resilient local/regional food system development. The plan is failing to deliver.
*See Mike Callicrate’s presentation from the 2023 R-CALF meeting in South Dakota here:
(Video from Slide #4)