In a world where packers own or control all the livestock, there is no place for family farmers and ranchers. Rural communities suffer another economic loss and all of us suffer the destruction of our natural environment. This must change.
A handful of corporations dominate the American food system. The rapid trend toward vertical integration, especially in hog production, further exacerbates the economic concentration in packing, processing and production. As the livestock sector has become extremely concentrated and integrated, packers and processors increasingly control production at all stages. Packer ownership of livestock (vertical integration) is driving the economic nightmare and environmental catastrophe of concentrated, industrial livestock production.
In many rural places where livestock are raised there are only a few, or even just one, packer or processor for a given livestock species. This is especially true in the livestock and poultry sectors. At the same time there has been a dramatic increase in the use of production and marketing contracts that further diminish the bargaining power of farmers and ranchers. Currently, fully 89% of hogs are either owned outright by packers or tightly controlled through various contracting devices. Many farmers and ranchers face price discrimination and severely limited market access as a result.
Sweetheart deals for mega producers place farmers at a competitive disadvantage. We oppose volume premiums that are not based on verifiable cost savings to the meatpacker.