The following tells the story of a steer, and also a story of the meatpacker/retailer cartel that captured the largest sector of our food system, while touting efficiencies and economies of scale. Since the early 1980’s when the big-four meatpackers decided to cooperate instead of compete, and antitrust cops went on vacation, nearly half our cattle producers have gone out of business, 87,000 cattle feeders are gone, and little is left of the small to medium sized meatpacker. Having gained control over the cattle markets, the big-four aligned themselves with our nation’s biggest retailers and food service companies in one of the most destructive and prolonged wealth mining operations in history.
To be food secure, we must rebuild local/regional food systems, restore food safety, increase income at the farm and ranch gate, improve soil health, animal welfare, and worker well-being. And we must break out of the box: