Just a few months after news broke that the nation’s top attorneys are investigating Big Chicken for alleged antitrust violations, similar allegations are piling up against Big Beef. Consumers, ranchers, and a meat distributor have now filed lawsuits alleging that the country’s biggest beef companies have broken antitrust law by conspiring to raise the price of beef and lower the amount paid to producers.
Last week, several Midwestern feedlot owners along with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.(No paywall)
A new project, dubbed “Hatching Hope,” aims to improve the livelihoods of 100 million people, focusing on women farmers, in the coming decade through chicken farming, which is seen as a quick way to produce food at home and for sale in town.
The recently passed tax law included a provision that gives farmers a larger tax savings if they sell their goods to cooperatives. Now grain companies, angered by what they see as an advantage being given to their competitors, are setting up their own cooperatives in case the law isn’t amended.
The U.S. Cattlemen's Association petitioned the USDA to establish label requirements for laboratory-grown meat and alternative proteins, said the weekly Tri-State Livestock News, of Belle Fourche, S.D. "We look forward to working with the agency to rectify the misleading labeling of 'beef' products that are made with plant or insect protein or grown in a Petri dish," said USCA president Kenny Graner.
McDonald’s will now require chicken suppliers, including Tyson and Cargill, to treat animals more humanely at slaughter. “Birds sold to the chain ... no longer will be shocked, shackled by the feet to conveyors and have their throats slit ...,” says The Los Angeles Times. “Such methods can leave chickens fully conscious when they are slaughtered.”
It was a comic skit on Portlandia: two hipsters asking about the provenance of the locally raised chicken being served in a restaurant. But farce has become fact this holiday season under a pilot program by Cargill that allows consumers to identify the farm that raised their turkey.
Memphis Meats, a San Francisco Bay–area company that is developing technology to grow meat from self-reproducing cells, raised $17 million in funding from investors that included Cargill, one of the largest U.S. meatpackers. “Cargill’s investment is the first by a traditional meat company in to the ‘clean meat’ sector,” said Drovers CattleNetwork.
Democratic lawmakers and farm activists criticized President Trump for his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty, saying it would result in harsher conditions for agriculture in coming years. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shrugged off climate change as inevitable and said USDA was "committed to digging ever deeper into research to develop better methods of agricultural production in that changing climate."