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Interesting article on anti-trust issues in Agriculture

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  • Interesting article on anti-trust issues in Agriculture

    This article appeared in this weeks Economist and I thought y'all might find it interesting.

    It's not directly horse related - but issues within agriculture do affect land ownership, the small working or hobby farm and the equine industry as well. So I thought I'd post a link to the on-line version of the magazine.

    http://www.economist.com/node/164364...ry_id=16436481
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling

  • #2
    [QUOTE]
    Originally posted by JSwan View Post
    This article appeared in this weeks Economist and I thought y'all might find it interesting.

    Packers would be unable to give better terms to big producers than to small ones.


    I don't know the sizes of big to little but buyers normally only ship semi loads of beef....mostly for fuel economy

    but here,they are "collected" and sorted (by age and grade and sex) from local auctions by buyers agents and sent to grass based local farmers who ear tag,vaccinate,worm and then graze them over <x> amt of time... (animals who arrive at the auctions with this already done sell for more to the agents)

    they are then paid for the gain difference in the delivery date and the pickup date plus inputs...

    then, these animals are picked up on <x> day and sent to the feedlots (which again only purchase in semi loads lots) to finish the 90 or 120 days on grain...

    so there is no little effort involved in the getting them to the feedlots to begin with...I'd hate to see a wormy un-managed culls off a hilltop bring the same as a sorted, well cared for pen of animals...that is just not fair

    Tamara in TN
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I don't think that's what the article was about. And I don't think anyone is advocating that a half starved wormy calf fetch the same prices as Kobe beef. The cattle I see at auction look pretty good. But not all cattle need to enter that large industrial model - the independent producer can produce a terrific product and sell it himself - except more and more he can't.

      The issue is more that global food production is being consolidated into a few mega producers; who control everything from seeds to crops to herbicides/pesticides to genomes to housing to labor to processing to packaging to labeling to marketing to pricing to distribution.

      Artificially forcing all other producers out of business.

      The customer has no choice but to buy the transgenic meat, or fruits and vegetables grown in China and sprayed with God knows what. The producer has no choice but to act as a type of cheap labor for a large corporation; when he'd rather market his product directly to the consumer, or to a local business.

      Yummy. I'll have seconds. But that's just my personal opinion on what the crap tastes like.

      The anti-trust aspect of global food production is more interesting.
      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
      -Rudyard Kipling

      Comment


      • #4
        [QUOTE]
        Originally posted by JSwan View Post
        I don't think that's what the article was about. And I don't think anyone is advocating that a half starved wormy calf fetch the same prices as Kobe beef. The cattle I see at auction look pretty good. But not all cattle need to enter that large industrial model - the independent producer can produce a terrific product and sell it himself - except more and more he can't.
        most here are too lazy to do this....or they pan their crap cattle (thin,wormy,ill) off on people as grass fed,who don't know any better, and since it tastes awful no one buys it a second time...ever seen a 2yo feeder steer dress out to 235 pounds ? I have and it was awful to see even hanging at the butchers....


        nothing keeps the 5 calf a year producer from forming cooperatives with other farmers...except that they won't adhere to group time tables for preconditioning and have sucky facilities for capture and removal and that leaves the bigger farmers who can make the full loads by themselves do better at sales time...

        but again,farmers are the only people in the world who pay retail and sell wholesale...

        like I said the article does not mention what size "producers" are in mind, but that is just my personal experience

        Tamara in TN
        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Oh, I see. Around here the small and medium producers are producing excellent meat, dairy and poultry products. They just market directly. They're still following all fed and state regs. I did see a CL ad from someone selling "grass-fed" beef for around 2$ a pound cut weight. I guess we've got our share of scam artists too.

          The anti-trust aspect is really what interests me, though I doubt that will get anywhere. The lobby is too powerful.

          On a lighter note - I'm now able to get locally produced milk right down the road from me. Good old fashioned glass bottles, cream on the top, and it tastes heavenly.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling

          Comment


          • #6
            I have not read the article, but Tamara, the deal about the 'grass fed' beef only works because people have no longer any idea how meat not produced on that scale tastes.

            You take good grazing, thow a bunch of cows out, have them raise their calves on milk and grass and process them before they turn a year, it's the best meat you will ever eat.

            You just don't keep the steers around for 2 years!

            But that's a different story all together...the system does not lend itself to more individualized farming anymore.

            To keep food cheap is the prime objective of every government in the world, always has been. Quality is secondary.

            Land usage is a different story...
            (when I get the chance I will actually read the article...)
            Originally posted by BigMama1
            Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
            GNU Terry Prachett

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, my background is cotton farming. Back 50 years ago, farming was very different from now. Here the farmers do industrial farming with no thought given to anything but making the most money now. That means GM crops, which have led to Roundup resistant Palmer pigweed, and we all know how hard pigweed is to control. The farmers here are actually going back to chopping (hoeing) cotton to get the pigweed before the seeds form. Industrial farmers are like lemmings; they will follow the leaders until they jump all the way off the cliff.

              There is no crop rotation anymore because the industrial farmers can use chemical fertilizers to keep crops growing artificially. It's almost come down to hydroponics on fields with every field irrigated. And it's expensive to produce crops under those conditions.

              We don't have a meat processor for two counties, and no one here even bothers with home grown meat. Our 4-H kids did use to produce some animals, but the 4-H died a few years back. The Mennonites do some small consumer production, but very little.

              We used to have a couple of oil mills in this town for cottonseed oil and soybean oil. Then they got bought by ADM and killed, so now our crops have to be shipped out of county. We used to be able to save seed from year to year, but Monsanto (followed by the other big seed producers) has made that against their sales and use contracts.

              The family farm--which here is a few thousand acres and increasing in size yearly--is so far from being self sufficient it's not even risible; the farmers are basically slaves to ConAgra and ADM. Even the coop businesses are dying; everything goes to the middleman and the processor.

              Sorry, but US Agriculture is in terrible shape, and the people who run it in government are all in the pockets of Agbusiness lobbyists and urban/suburban people who don't have a clue. If more people and more jobs were involved, but agriculture related jobs continually shrink as industrial production takes over.

              Heck, the new JD Cotton picker which makes its own modules (putting module makers, and cotton trailer manufacturers out of business) costs almost half a million dollars new, and the things are actually selling because the picker doesn't have to stop and unload to keep going. I fail to see how labor costs, at minimum wage or just over, make those pickers cost effective, but all the lemmings who can are jumping off that cliff.

              Big Tractors now cost a quarter of million bucks, so I am told by the local JD place.
              "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
              Thread killer Extraordinaire

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                I have not read the article, but Tamara, the deal about the 'grass fed' beef only works because people have no longer any idea how meat not produced on that scale tastes.

                You take good grazing, thow a bunch of cows out, have them raise their calves on milk and grass and process them before they turn a year, it's the best meat you will ever eat.

                You just don't keep the steers around for 2 years!

                But that's a different story all together...the system does not lend itself to more individualized farming anymore.

                To keep food cheap is the prime objective of every government in the world, always has been. Quality is secondary.

                Land usage is a different story...
                (when I get the chance I will actually read the article...)
                There is more to those questions that meets the eye.
                Here is more:

                http://agnews.tamu.edu/showstory.php?id=1934

                http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cattle-feedlot-visit

                http://www.cattlenetwork.com/gam_art...q_v=bac3336c15

                ---"• In 1940, one farmer produced enough food for 19 people. By 1970, it had risen to 73 people. And, currently, one farmer produces enough food for 155 people.
                • From 1970 to 2010, the world population doubled, but farmland didn’t. More and more people were basically able to live off the same amount of land.

                As productivity has improved, so too have the techniques for preserving resources. For instance, farmers now grow 70 percent more corn from every pound of fertilizer than they did in 1970. And, they are doing a better job of conserving water and the soil."---


                Last numbers I heard is that today, small farmers, that is those with less than 30 head, if I remember right, raise 93% of the beef calves.
                Raising beef cattle is not exactly dominated by large producers.
                About 70% of those cattle raised by those producers, big and small, are finished on rations.
                That last phase, because of the economics of it, is run generally, although not always, by larger enterprises, some grain conglomerates, that can better manage those kinds of investments as feedlots require.
                Feedlots to them is just one more way to manage their grain supplies.

                Every industry, as they become mature, consolidates, eventually having monopoly issues, from PJ Morgan at the turn of 1800 to 1900, the ATT telephone company break up, to today's cattle business investigations, following the Packers and Stockyard's Act.

                When government becomes involved, those problems are more or less sorted out, generally in detrimental ways to the economy of the industries in question and no one gaining from the disruptions, not the players in those industries or society.
                Eventually, the markets right themselves, adjusting to the new order and we keep keeping on.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                  There is more to those questions that meets the eye.
                  Here is more:

                  http://agnews.tamu.edu/showstory.php?id=1934

                  http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cattle-feedlot-visit

                  http://www.cattlenetwork.com/gam_art...q_v=bac3336c15

                  ---"• In 1940, one farmer produced enough food for 19 people. By 1970, it had risen to 73 people. And, currently, one farmer produces enough food for 155 people.
                  • From 1970 to 2010, the world population doubled, but farmland didn’t. More and more people were basically able to live off the same amount of land.

                  As productivity has improved, so too have the techniques for preserving resources. For instance, farmers now grow 70 percent more corn from every pound of fertilizer than they did in 1970. And, they are doing a better job of conserving water and the soil."---


                  Last numbers I heard is that today, small farmers, that is those with less than 30 head, if I remember right, raise 93% of the beef calves.
                  Raising beef cattle is not exactly dominated by large producers.
                  About 70% of those cattle raised by those producers, big and small, are finished on rations.
                  That last phase, because of the economics of it, is run generally, although not always, by larger enterprises, some grain conglomerates, that can better manage those kinds of investments as feedlots require.
                  Feedlots to them is just one more way to manage their grain supplies.

                  Every industry, as they become mature, consolidates, eventually having monopoly issues, from PJ Morgan at the turn of 1800 to 1900, the ATT telephone company break up, to today's cattle business investigations, following the Packers and Stockyard's Act.

                  Those problems are more or less sorted out, generally in detrimental ways to the economy of the industries in question and no one gaining from the disruptions, not the players in those industries or society.
                  Eventually, the markets right themselves, adjusting to the new order and we keep keeping on.
                  It's beena few years and I think I threw it out by now, but I read in a newspaper (in Orlando, Fl of all places)
                  on how to manage your herd to make it more uniform looking to market it better at the sale. Though the small farms might have the lion's share on the calf production, but the big guys do the buying and processing and they make the rules on what sells.

                  That's why all uni colored cows are now black and called 'Angus', there aren't enough Angus cows in the world to supply the market for the meat...

                  We are in the lucky position to produce more food off less land. But we are turning it into a perversion of progress at this time. The production criteria are set by people who just don't care.

                  On the other hand, and it was cleared in Germany 20 years ago than it is around where I live in Alabama, agricultural land use made the landscape. Without farming central Europe would be forest. So if you like the open grass lands, wheat or the ever colorful rape- and linseed you need farmers. Alabama is actually very similar, without farms it all would be woods. But unlike Alabama, the public has a vested interest in the open lands as recreational destination. Around here you can't just go walking, you end up on somebody's land, possibly staring at the business end of a shotgun, too...

                  So to keep the farms farming, provisions were made for direct marketing of niche products.
                  So you can still get your 99 cent dozen of eggs if you have to have it, but the truly humane raised product is available, too. (I do miss the days when Oma would go to the neighbors for a quart of milk, filling her jug from the holding tank, leaving the money on the shelve...best milk ever, what did I ever know about pasteurisation...)
                  Originally posted by BigMama1
                  Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                  GNU Terry Prachett

                  Comment

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