American Cattle Industry on the Brink – Ignoring the Obvious

Truth loses to big money and political power.

It’s called stealing. Cattle producers invest the most and receive the least. The producer share of the consumer beef dollar was around 65 to 70% in 1970 when markets were competitive. The producer share sank to 27% during the height of the pandemic, and now remains around 36%.

After the 1996 South Dakota Auction Markets meeting and South Dakota Governor’s Cattle Conference of the same year, and following the 2004 trial in Montgomery, Alabama where a jury found Tyson/IBP guilty of market manipulation, law enforcers and economists remained in denial and blind to the abusive power of highly concentrated markets. Even today, after many more years of cattle industry decline and loss of food sovereignty, law enforcers and economists, including many in our nation’s land grant colleges and universities, still remain oblivious. The historic plundering of our nation’s largest agricultural sector continues, as many of these so-called public servants remain firm in their support of the meatpacking monopoly.

“Without us negotiating price, you folks don’t get paid.”

In 2012, Gary Brester, Montana State University’s “big is better” economist, was asked about Mike Callicrate. Brester wrote, “How should I put this? Ok, how about the following: Callicrate is nuttier than a loon.” This was the “intellectual” response from a person living in Montana’s cattle country, sitting in a warm comfortable office, preparing our ranch kids to work for the same corporations that were forcing their parents out of business, while taking a taxpayer supported paycheck.

The following presentations of Jim Strain, Leo McDonnell, and myself are a look back when thousands of cattle operations were being destroyed by low prices, and government agencies, with the authority to stop the slaughter, were looking the other way. You will see our positions on the dangers of highly concentrated markets, as has the lack of antitrust law enforcement, remained consistent over the last twenty-five years.

Other presentations at the 1996 Auction Market conference included Herman Schumacher and Johnny Smith, representing the auction markets, and Chuck Schroeder and John Lacey, representing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the big meatpacker/retailer cartel.

Jim Strain, “I think we are in vertical integration now, and I think you people are paying the price.”

Rancher, Leo McDonnell, “Something is Wrong.”

Cattle feeder, Mike Callicrate, “Without us negotiating price, you folks don’t get paid.”

See the full event playlist here.

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2 Responses to American Cattle Industry on the Brink – Ignoring the Obvious

  1. judyreyher46 says:

    What makes me angry and sad at the same time is the “splintering” among producers because some are “going along to get along.” Generations of people who worked together are now on opposite sides. What is happening has been proven but too many are still drinking the “ade.”

  2. Ed Mitchell says:

    Nobody in our generation is hungry enough to do anything about it and the latest generation is to busy getting started they don’t understand they need to get active. Their biggest source of info is
    Farm Bureau which means they are lost before they get started.

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