BILLINGS, Mont. — In comments submitted yesterday, June 22, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, R-CALF USA identified concentration of the beef packing sector and globalization of input supply chains as the core structural problems causing today’s crisis in the U.S. cattle industry. In April, the USDA called for public comments to help the administration transform America’s food system by increasing durability and resilience within U.S. food supply chains.
The group’s comments assert these core structural problems result from misguided public policies that pandered to corporate agribusiness self-interests to allow the forces of competition to be purged from both the cattle and beef supply chains. This occurred, according to R-CALF USA, because policy makers used “biased economic modeling that predicted largeness of scale would create marketplace efficiencies, which in turn would increase consumer welfare by affording consumers more and lower-cost food.”
But charts contained in the comments show consumers have not received either more, or lower-cost food. Instead, they show ever-rising consumer beef prices, falling cattle prices paid to America’s cattle farmers and ranchers, and a chronic inability for the United States cattle industry to produce enough beef to satisfy domestic beef consumption.
The comments state that four multinational beef packers control 85% of the fed cattle market and 80% of the boxed beef market, and that…