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The Power of Mega Meat Processors

03 December 2008

US - Small time packing plants are struggling to survive in many American states because of the market power of mega meat processors.

Getting locally produced beef from an area dotted with cattle farms does not seem like it would be difficult. In fact, Baldwin County alone is home to some 25,000 cattle this year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

But, according to al.com, Alabama is an exporter of cattle, meaning that it generally ships out live animals, not meat.

Perry Mobley, a commodities director with the Alabama Farmers Federation, told al.com that "in recent times, every packing plant that's tried to start up (locally) failed because (large) packers have so much clout, they just put you out of business,"

It might take more time to raise a cow on its natural diet of grass, but the state's cattlemen, members of a $3 billion industry, could save millions of dollars each year in shipping costs if production were to shift in state.

If someone invested the millions it would take to establish large slaughter operations in Alabama, it would not only provide new agricultural jobs, it would save cattlemen the $3,000 to $4,000 they spend to ship each load of 70 cows to feed lots in Iowa, Kansas or anywhere else there is abundant corn to quickly and cheaply — albeit unnaturally — fatten cattle.

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