The Imbalance in the Beef Industry

written by

Blaine Ward

posted on

April 26, 2023

Written by:  Blaine Ward, Marketing Team / Blogger

Control and Greed in the Beef Industry

When you make a trip to the grocery store, you might notice several different brands of beef.  However, what you might not realize is that the majority of those brands have been bought up by four major beef companies.  The days of healthy competition amongst fellow beef producers at auction have been overtaken by control and greed.  The imbalance in control affects the rancher, the consumer, and everyone in between.  Although recent events in the past few years have brought more attention to this problem, this issue is nothing new.

Four Major Companies Control the Beef Industry

Back in 1921, the Packers and Stockyards Act was put in place to assure fair competition and safeguard farmers and ranchers.  Sadly, during the Reagan administration, the balance was lost again.  There are now four major companies that control the beef industry: Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef.  Due to this imbalance in control, about 40% of cattle ranchers have gone out of business.

Healthy Competition

Healthy competition consists of ranchers being able to take their cattle to auction while fellow farmers and ranchers bid against each other.  Due to the control taken by these four large companies, those competitive bids have been lost.  For some ranchers, the highest bid is all they will make for that year.  Lately, those prices haven't been enough for many ranchers to make it.

Actions Have Consequences

It wasn't until more recent years that this issue of control was made evident to the public.  When a Tyson plant in 2019 caught fire, the consequences to the market were immediate.  The same can be said for multiple meat closures due to the covid outbreaks.  During this time, they paid ranchers less and charged consumers more.  With only four major companies to process cattle, we become extremely dependent, and problems ensue.

A Family Legacy

In the past 50 years, about 40% of cattle ranchers have gone out of business.  Family legacies that were meant to be passed down are dying.  While the prices have hurt the consumers, there is no comparison to what toll this has taken on our cattle ranchers.  The long days, endless nights, and the gamble on whether they will make enough to take care of their own family, all while feeding your family.  Take a little time to watch the video How Four Companies Control the Beef Industry, and let us know your thoughts.  

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