Meat Consumption a Century Ago vs. Today – What if?

March 5, 1908

CONSUMPTION OF MEAT

Topeka, Kansas – That meat consumption per capita has declined in this country since 1840 is plainly indicated. There is some ground for believing that at that time meat constituted about half of the national dietary in terms of total nutritive units consumed, whereas now it constitutes about one-third.

The average private family of 1900 contained 4.6 persons, and this family consumed on the average 855 pounds of dressed weight meat or 680 pounds of edible meat in the dressed weight. Upon adding to the 680 pounds the edible parts not included in the dressed weight, the average family consumption of edible meat was 840 pounds.

In terms of meat and its products substantially as purchased by the consumer, that is, the sum of the dressed weight and of the weight of the edible parts not included in the dressed weight, the private family of 1900 bought on the average 1,014 pounds of meat, or over half a ton. That makes an average of 2.78 pounds per day, and includes not merely meat commonly known as such, with its bones and retail butchers’ trimmings, but includes lard, edible tallow, the meat products contained in sandwiches, pies, bakery products, sausage, etc., and all kitchen and table waste.

Beef and veal constitute 47 percent of the meat consumption; mutton and lamb 7 percent and 46 percent. In the exports, beef by weight is 34 percent and pork 66 percent.

Thanks to Tom Giessel, NFU Historian

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“What would the economic and climate impact be if we could restore beef consumption to 1900 levels … ?”

Comparing per capita consumption of beef and pork:

1900 – Beef – 104 pounds per person, 86 pounds based on 840 pounds per family

1900 – Pork – 101 pounds per person, 84 pounds based on 840 pounds per family

2020 – Beef – 58.9 pounds per person (retail wt.)

2020 – Pork – 46.9 pounds per person (retail wt.)

Per capita beef consumption was considerably higher in 1900 when thousands of skilled butchers in small shops were cutting beef directly from carcasses without the benefits of modern refrigeration.  The perceived efficiency of big meatpackers and their industrially produced boxed-beef, along with the promotional efforts of the beef checkoff, has only had negative outcomes – reduced quality and demand, worker exploitation, animal abuse, and the dramatic loss of small meatpackers, butcher shops, and cattle producers.

What would the economic and climate impact be if we could restore beef consumption to 1900 levels and essentially eliminate beef imports? What if grazing was permitted on the approximately 25 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands, plus any other highly erodible or excess crop acres that could become well-managed carbon-sequestering pasture lands? And then add the potential of restoring local/regional markets in which the producer receives a fair share of the consumer beef dollar.

We should also consider how a return to healthy food and a healthy Earth could reduce the degenerative diseases caused by highly processed modern food.

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Who will the Biden administration serve, the lords of big business, or the people?

Rural America has become a place of hunger, hopelessness, and despair, with precious resources extracted and stolen by global agribusinesses and Wall Street-based companies, enabled by our own government and primarily by the United States Department of Agriculture. While homesteads decay and soils degrade, the bustling main streets of fifty years ago are left abandoned, strip-mined by Walmart, with dollar stores on the edge of town hawking the waste of our nation’s no-rules economy to the few who remain.

Will Biden return the captured USDA to its original mission as the ‘Peoples’ department? Will the new administration restore our food security and sovereignty? Will Biden and the new Congress enforce antitrust laws, break up the monopolies, and rebuild a free and fair marketplace that serves all of us instead of the interests and profits of concentrated power?

‘Pigs Can Fly’ According to USDA Study – And global corporations will feed us.

Since the following 1999 article was published, the welfare of our nation’s independent livestock producers has continued to decline with the increase in concentrated money and political power of meatpacking and food retail. We are a net food importer on a value basis and unable to feed ourselves.

May 7, 1999

‘Pigs Can Fly’ According to USDA Study

Saying “Pigs can fly” is the same as saying, “U.S. meatpackers didn’t depress prices,” which is what the USDA wants us to believe. And for those of you who have continued to wrongfully perceive that packer’s practices aren’t the reasons for low livestock prices, you must believe that trees don’t grow in the forest and there is no water in the ocean.

Even Hitler would have been proud of the land-grant university economists who conducted the 1996 Concentration in Agriculture study and the in-house USDA economists who this week released their preposterous peer review of the 1996 study and agreed that “the big meatpackers didn’t depress prices. “

“The bigger the lie, the easier it
is for the public to swallow.”

It was he who said, “The bigger the lie, the easier it is for the public to swallow.” The USDA study has given us the big lie.

With this announcement and virtual “green light” from USDA to continue their exploitation of cattlemen, the packers quickly bid lower money for live cattle this week, at the same time as beef cutouts justified higher cattle prices. Compared to one year ago, USDA data shows the packer is making $83.73 more per head on a finished 1200-pound steer while cattle feeders continue to go broke.

Ironically, all this after last week’s successful class-action ruling against IBP in a case claiming anti-competitive practices, and IBP’s announcement of record quadruple first-quarter earnings. In an interview, IBP stated, “It makes no sense for us to do anything to hurt cattle producers when we depend on them to supply our plants.” The IBP spokesman went on to say, “It is discouraging to be portrayed as a villain when study after study has found that depressed market prices are due to basic supply and demand, not meatpacking concentration or captive supply.”  This is another big lie. The pigs are flying at IBP.

One leading economist stated the following, “This USDA study is negligently misleading. No relevant conclusions regarding the illegal exercise of market power can be reached, given the annual data used in this study. The illegal exercise of market power is not only a question of law (not economics) but also a question of the daily behavior of market participants, which in no way is analyzed by this study based on annual data (one observation per year).”

Unbelievably, IBP’s friends at USDA verified the “study after study” argument this week despite their full knowledge of IBP’s 122% captive supplies during the devastating, nearly $200 per head market drop of 1994. Despite their full and complete access to court records showing that during the sixty-four week period studied, the cash market fell two out of three times when IBP was forced to buy cash cattle. 

“Doesn’t the next investigation
need to be of the USDA?”

FACT: USDA has continued to ignore the day that ConAgra sold 7,250 head of cattle to their partner in crime, IBP, exploding the floodgates on the weeks cattle trade and breaking the cash market sixty dollars per head from cattle feeder asking prices.

FACT: USDA has in their hands, since January 1999 clear evidence of price discrimination, undue preference and feedyard blackballing and still they say,  “U.S. meatpackers didn’t depress prices.”

FACT: USDA overlooked their own recent indictment of Cargill for cheating pork producers. How about seven cent hogs and the corresponding record meatpacker profits?

What makes USDA and their land-grant university touts so blind to the obvious? Could it be the money and the power of the multinational corporate predators IBP, ConAgra and Cargill have captured this government agency?

Doesn’t the next investigation need to be of the USDA?

# # #

Last week, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer called the Capital building in DC, the “Temple of Democracy.” Its desecration was a very dark day in American history. We cannot forget that nearly half of the American electorate, divided by their prejudices, but united in their despair, rejected President-Elect Biden and his nearly fifty years in the city that forgot America’s citizens. If we are to survive as a Republic and move forward, we must recognize the endless lies and deceptions, the decades of divisive tactics, and the corporate lobbying and control of policy that paved the way for this tragic day.

Many, especially those of us in rural America, see our nation’s capital, not as a temple of democracy, but as a castle protecting the cruel lords of concentrated power. We now have the opportunity, working together with new policies, including agriculture and food policy, to build back a new grass-roots community-based economy that works for all – a new economy that supports a clean and healthy environment based on healthy soils, strong rural communities, and good food.

So, who will the Biden administration serve, the lords of big business, or the people?

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The Farmers Advocate – Politics and Partisanship

October 3, 1907

Editorial

Politics and Partisanship

THERE is a great difference between the two terms and the farmers of this great country should respect the difference. It is important that the farmer should study the issues to see if he can not logically conclude which of the many parties in existence comes more nearly standing for his political beliefs. It is all wrong for him to sell out to any party that he believes is wrong or to assist in causing the farmer organization to which he belongs to become an auxiliary to any party for the purpose of placing a few farmers in office. There are certain organizations which should never be used to further the ends of any party. One of these is the church. No reader wants to see any denomination give itself over to the success of any particular political party. It’s mission is far above that. It is all right that the members of that church should study political questions and become members of the different political organizations, but they should not prostitute the church organization by making it an adjunct to any political party. Another organization that should not be so prostituted is the farmers’ organization. It is too sacred. It’s mission is much more than that. It is the all important thing that members study the political issues, but it is just wrong to try to prostitute the organization by making it a kindergarten to any political party as it is to try to use the church for the same purpose.

The things for which the average farmers’ organizations stand, such as education and co-operation, cannot be accomplished by an alliance with a political party …

The salvation of a human soul can never be accomplished by a political party and when the church as an organization becomes part of a political party its mission as a savior of souls ceases. The things for which the average farmers’ organizations stand, such as education and co-operation, cannot be accomplished by an alliance with a political party and if such an alliance is made, the usefulness of the organization ceases.

Other business organizations do not form alliances with any of the political parties. Grocery, dry goods, implement, in fact all interests, have their co-operative organizations, yet not one of them is allowed to become and auxiliary to any party, no matter how many politicians may belong to it. The farmer should use the same sound sense. Be a politician in that you keep posted on and take interest in the issues of the day, but do not be a partisan by attempting to play your organization in the hands of any party.

Thanks to Tom Giessel, NFU historian

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No Country for Young Farmers vs. The Value of a Small Farm Well Tilled

A stark warning comes from Cody Atkinson of the feudalism monopoly control of our food system brings. We declared ourselves independent and free men in 1776 in a battle against the monopoly power of the British Crown and East India Company partnership, and again with the breakup of the Robber Barons of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Today, we are once again faced with the enslaving forces of highly concentrated power and wealth. Will we use the tools available to reassert our liberty?

The Value of a Small Farm Well Tilled was written one hundred and fourteen years before No Country for Young Farmers. Today, as with the Robber Baron days of 1906, concentrated power and wealth are back, bigger and more insidious than before.  Will we become modern-day subjects to monopoly power, or will we once again, as citizens, declare our independence?

No Country for Young Farmers

Dec 21

Perhaps the biggest problem looming in farming and ranching is the average age of the American farmer is steadily creeping toward 60. This aging population, combined with youth flight from their rural homes, and sky-high barriers to entry have our farm economy careening toward feudalism. If current trends continue, Big Ag will join the Big Banks as too big to fail. The power that monopolies like Brazil’s JBS, China’s Smithfield, and the US’ Cargill and Tyson have over our political process has led to financial ruin for rural America and bold action is needed to reverse these trends before it’s too late. (MORE)

When do we need our neighbors more than we need their land?

The Value of a Small Farm Well Tilled

Reverse the Values

Put a $16,000 Boy on a $1,000 Farm Instead of a $1,000 Boy on a $16,000 Farm.

Published in The Farmers Advocate, Topeka, Kansas, February 15, 1906

In a recent review on the ever-increasing value of farm lands and the difficulties encountered by the young man who would take up farming for a living, Maxwell’s Talisman said:

Does not the increase in land values in this country raise a question of supreme importance with reference to the opportunities of our coming generation, — the young men who now are growing into manhood and must soon face the problem of providing a living for a family?

The price of land in all the states where agriculture has become a well-established industry, is now so high that a young man coming out of school or college, with his life and all its problems before it, cannot, in any reasonable time, in any occupation open to the average man, earn enough under ordinary circumstances, to buy a farm for himself, so that he may own a home. He must be either a wage-worker or a tenant farmer.

“And is not that solution to put the value and the power of production from the land into the boy himself, by a system of right education …”

Is there not a solution of this problem which can be made to apply to every young man of average industry and capacity? And is not that solution to put the value and the power of production from the land into the boy himself, by a system of right education, rather than in the land? In other words, to make this point clear, one hundred and sixty acres of land is none too much for a man to have to furnish a good living for himself and a family, under the ordinary methods of farming now prevailing in this country. But what is the purpose of working the farm? Is it not, first, that the farmer may have a home for himself and his family, and second, that he may have an income sufficient to enable them to live in comfort, with all the advantages of education and social environment, which every citizen in this country craves and should have?

If that home and that income can be just as well produced from ten acres of land as from one hundred and sixty acres, the amount of money necessary to secure the acreage required is reduced from $16,000, the cost of 160 acres at $100 an acre, to $1,000, the cost of 10 acres at $100 an acre. The acreage cost may be put at $100 because, although in many places land demands a much higher price, there is still plenty of good land to be had where a young farmer could start a life, for $100 an acre.

A young man with no capital except industry and ordinary capacity can hardly hope to earn $16,000, or to in any way save it as a reward of his own labor, during the earlier years of his life. He might, if more than ordinarily industrious and economical, save enough by the time he reaches middle life to buy such as a farm, but he could not do so until a reasonable time after he was ready to marry and establish a home; much less, before or at that time.

“… educate and train every boy willing to receive the training, in the public schools, from kindergarten to and including the country college, so that he will become so skilled in the art of science of close and intensive cultivation of the soil …”

Now, instead of bringing together a sixteen thousand dollar farm and one thousand dollar boy, suppose we reverse the combination and placed the sixteen thousand dollar boy on a one thousand dollar farm? All that is necessary to do that is to educate and train every boy willing to receive the training, in the public schools, from kindergarten to and including the country college, so that he will become so skilled in the art of science of close and intensive cultivation of the soil, in the process of plant growth, and irrigation, soil culture and fertilization, and the selection of the kind of crops to grow, and in the methods, processes and systems of marketing them, that by intensive farming of a ten-acre tract, costing $1,000, a $16,000 boy will be able to produce from 10 acres by better and more intensive methods of farming, than a farmer now produces from 160 acres.

It is no longer a theory. It is an established and unquestioned fact that this is quite practicable, and that the only element of doubt is in the farmer himself.

Of course the average farmer and land owner imagine the very least acreage he can get on with is a quarter section, and the more land he has the richer he is, and consequently, he spends all of his energies on crowding out his neighbors and adding as many acres as he can to his own domain.

In the near future this greed for land will gradually fade away, and farmers will find with less land and more cultivation, they can make more money, and that the smaller the farms the better the roads will be, the more neighbors they will have, the better the churches and schools, the libraries and social environment, and the greater will be the educational advantages they will be able to give to their children. With “the small farm well tended,” life itself becomes a more vastly enjoyable thing than on an isolated farm, where the owner is devoting himself to laboriously laying up money to buy out his neighbors and isolate himself still more from his fellow-man.

“… provide a system of public school education and bring it within the reach of every boy and girl within the land, which will train everyone of them so they will know how to cultivate ten acres of land in such a way that it will yield a greater profit than a quarter-section …”

To carry out the plan above suggested, it is only necessary to get two ideas firmly planted in the American mind:

That the first thing to be considered is the life we live and our relations with our fellow men, rather than the amount of money we may have in the bank or the number of acres over which we may exercise dominion.

Second, that to reconstruct our social system and solve every social and political problem which now confronts this country, nothing is necessary but to provide a system of public school education and bring it within the reach of every boy and girl within the land, which will train everyone of them so they will know how to cultivate ten acres of land in such a way that it will yield a greater profit than a quarter-section farm ordinarily does today, and will know how to cultivate one acre of land — a home acre — in the suburbs of a city or factory town, so as to produce from it a large measure of the living for a family, not withstanding that the head of the family, or other members of it, may be occupied in a clerical capacity elsewhere during the day or working in a factory or a mine.

Thanks to Tom Giessel, NFU Historian

For more on why and how:

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Trickle Down Effect? It’s Worse Now!

Since 1997 the producer share of the consumer beef dollar has declined an additional 10% or around $400 per head. Between 1975 and 1997 meatpackers, cooperating with each other and with the big retailers, had already taken 20% more than a competitive market would have allowed — all the while touting their efficiencies and economies of scale. They never said what they were really efficient at.

2020 – This government enabled wealth extraction scheme has resulted in nearly half of our cow-calf producers, and over 84,000 cattle feeding operations, going out of business.

Today, twenty-three years later, NCBA is still using nearly $40 million dollars of the beef checkoff tax every year to promote the meatpackers’ and retailers’ interests and to convince producers, who are forced to pay the checkoff, they are better off.

 

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