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The secret takeover of our food supply by few giant American corporations and how corporations like Tyson are pioneers of meat racket

The author and journalist Christopher Leonard recently published a book with title of The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business. As you could tell from the title of the book, Christopher Leonard talks about the hellish farming practices of corporations like Tyson and Cargill Inc that have pioneered a modern way of food production. These companies are given total monopoly and ownership over every stage of the meat business, and they are powerful enough to increase the meat prices as high as they desire.

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According to Leonard, there are four companies that make 85% of the American beef, 65% of its pork and three companies that make almost half of the chickens in America. As a matter of fact, in chicken business, Tyson Foods own the hatcheries (where the chicken are born), breeding company (that determines where the chickens are raised),  feed mills (GMO corn and hormones to fatten up the chicks), the slaughterhouses (where chickens are being processed) and trucking lines (where chicks are delivered).

You may know that pork and beef industry are no different than chicken industry and the monopoly of few agribusinesses have led to drastic increase in profit margin of meat industry. In fact, America’s biggest meat company, Tyson Foods had about $778 million in pure profit just last year and the company relentlessly keeps increasing the meat prices in America.

How giant meat companies like Tyson Foods control every stage of the meat business, even the meat prices:

The current CEO of Tyson Foods, Donnie Smith joined the company in 1980s and steadily claimed up the ranks at Tyson. During 2008 financial crisis, Donnie Smith was appointed as CEO of Tyson Foods.

At the time, due to new ethanol subsidies, the cost of feed grain like corn had reached its highest level, destroying the profit that Tyson had gathered for more than a decade from the cheap GMO corn feed. Around the same time, Americans were no longer eating at restaurants or buying Tyson’s chicken nuggets at the grocery store. For the first time ever, after the world war II, chicken consumption was not growing every single year.

In November 2008, Smith had series of meetings with Tyson executives to find out what they could do to get out of the financial crisis. The solution was very simple, especially for a man like Smith with thick Southern accent and a sharp business sense. All Tyson company needed to do is to cut back production and keep chicken supplies lower, which that would automatically drive up the prices.

Cutting down production meant the company would intentionally scale back its business and farmers would have lower income since they got fewer deliveries of chickens while their debt payment remained the same.  

By December 2008, Tyson cut back its meat and egg production and in just a matter of few weeks, the chicken and egg prices rose up by 20 cents and Tyson business was once again profitable.

The most remarkable thing about this plan was the fact that after decades of lax antitrust enforcement (during the Bush administration), Tyson Foods was now able to buy most of its competitors:

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Around the same time, the Federal government also made a decision to bail out the big banks (like Wells Fargo & Co, Goldman sacks and JPMorgan Chase) with your tax dollars, so the big banks ended up buying the smaller banks, and as a result, they are too big to fail now.

What Tyson executives could not even imagine was the fact that buying all their competitors did give Tyson Foods and its competitor, Pilgrim’s the power to control more than 40% of the national meat market. Back in 1960, no single poultry had enough market shares to be able to cut supplies and drive up the meat prices. Today, a handful of giant agribusinesses including Tyson have the power to raise prices of beef, pork and chickens, even as grain prices keep going down.

As a result, even during the economic collapse, the profit margin of the country’s top four meat producers doubled between 2008 and 2009.  

The power of giant meat and biotech lobby over the Obama administration:

During the 2008 presidential election, Obama heavily criticized lax antitrust enforcement of Gorge W Bush, and he promised to put food transparency ahead of the interests of giant agribusinesses. Even in 2012, he tried to propose a series of new antitrust measurements against the power of giant meat companies.

However, all the promises and reform plans of the Obama administration were undermined and beaten down by the efforts of powerful meat and biotech lobbyists. The Obama administration also betrayed the trust of the public by appointing the most ruthless Wall-street advisors in his cabinet and appointing the key figures of giant biotech companies like Monsanto and DuPont as head of FDA and USDA.

He also promised to label GMO foods and while his entire family, dine on nothing but Michelle’s organically grown garden, he chose to turn a blind eye to the issues of GE foods and ignore right of an average consumer to choose non-GMO foods if they want to. The reality is that all the promises and efforts of the Obama administration seems no match for meat and biotech lobbyists who truly run this administration.   

Factory farming: The truth is too hard to swallow

Amazingly, the agribusiness lobby is even pushing legislators to pass laws that would prohibit investigations and photographs that show footage of animal abuse. Recently, animal abuse in an Oklahoma pig farm with strong ties to Tyson Foods was caught on camera. The disturbing graphics showed how the farm employees were kicking, hitting and throwing pigs. The disturbing images were caught on camera on how the farm employees were gouging pigs' eyes, slamming baby pigs into concrete, and one worker even throws a bowling ball at an animal's head. Here of the full video: WARNING: Due to graphic content Viewer discretion is advised: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/11/horrific-animal-cruelty-video-prompts.html

Apparently, Tyson Foods dumps the Oklahoma pig farm, only and only after NBC shows the video of animal brutality. However, one would wonder how many other factory farms in America have similar hellish farming practices, but no one seems to pay attention or notice since none of them seem to have any footage of animal brutality caught on camera.  

Beside the animal cruelty, factory farming is disastrous to both the environment and our health. Find out how animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37% of methane (CH4) emissions and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions. In fact, methane released from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms is 70 times more damaging to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2: http://seattleorganicrestaurants.com/vegan-whole-food/factory-farms-extensive-use-of-chemicals-pesticides-are-major-contributors-to-climate-change-greenhouse-gasses.php

Source:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Meat-Racket-Takeover-Americas/dp/1451645813

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2014/03/meat_racket_excerpt_how_tyson_keeps_chicken_prices_high.html

 

 

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