Experts share insights on cashing in on local, fresh beef products

US- Big agribusinesses are squeezing the profit out of ranching, increasing the gap between the producers and consumers, according to Mike Callierate of Ranch Foods Direct.
calendar icon 24 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
“Farmers and ranchers have got to go through the retailers and packers to get to the consumers,” noted Callierate during the Montana Cattlemen's Day on Nov. 4 in Billings, Mont. “Even when the real price of cattle is real good at $1.40, the ranchers get less than their share of the consumer dollar. Cattlemen have lost 16 percent of the consumer dollar to what they call economies of scale.”

Packers claim it isn't their fault they have to purchase beef at such low costs. “They say it is easier to steal from the ranchers than it is to sell meat to Wal-Mart at a higher price,” said Callierate.

Beef today isn't the same quality as it was yesteryear, said Callierate, noting the average steer will receive five implants in its lifetime - implants that make the meat tougher and reduce marbling - to increase its growth. “The quality of meat has dropped with the industrial approach,” he said. “We're losing our communities, families and health. We feed more chemicals now and eat a diet reduced in whole grain foods. Fat is good if it is in butter, milk and other things, but we've cut that out, too. The average life expectancy for our children is going backwards.”

The United States has become known as a “fast food” nation. A new movie release has documented this condition, which Callierate, who helped edit the movie, hopes will make a difference in Americans' food consumption and purchase decisions. “The movie is pro-family, pro-community, pro-health, pro-agriculture and anti-big business,” he said. “I think it will be hard to watch, but it may make a difference.”

These big agribusinesses pushing fast, processed foods to the nation's consumers are global businesses that care not about the American communities, but where to get the cheapest source of product, said Callierate. “They don't care about you - they only care about the product,” he said.

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