Food & Power Newsletter: The Battle for Nebraska: Communities Take On Industrial Chicken and Pork

Posted Chris Wager Chicken, Leah Douglas, Newsletter, Pork

“We need a moratorium here in Iowa. We’ve got too many factory farms.” That’s Adam Mason, state policy director with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. He’s not alone in his desire for dramatic action to be taken against the proliferation of factory farming in his state. Communities across the country are standing up against corporate, […]

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Consolidation Is Eating Our Food Economy

Posted Leah Douglas Leah Douglas, Mergers & Acquisitions

A generation ago, America’s farm and food economy was dominated by small family enterprises. Today, just four companies control 65 percent of pork slaughter, 84 percent of cattle slaughter, and 53 percent of chicken slaughter. Milk production is largely shaped by one large processor, Dean Foods, and one large cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. Recent mergers, such as the Brussels-based Delhaize’s (Food Lion) acquisition of the Dutch company Ahold (Giant, Stop & Shop), have reduced the number of large grocers down to four. What does all this consolidation mean for our food economy?

 

Nebraska’s Livestock Market Faces Death by Big Meat Lobbying

Posted Leah Douglas Foreign Ownership, Leah Douglas, Pork

This article was originally published in Fortune. Photo by Stepney City Farm. Few images are more emblematic of the American heartland than that of farmers taking their livestock to market. But if Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signs a bill passed last month by his state’s legislature, one of the last of the country’s traditional open livestock […]

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Book Review: Mark Bittman’s A Bone to Pick

Posted Leah Douglas Leah Douglas

With A Bone to Pick, an anthology of columns from his four years at the Times, Bittman provides a survey of his food policy analysis. But the collection also reveals Bittman’s disheartening lack of analysis about how, exactly, the American public came to find itself in the midst of such a widespread – and growing – agricultural and dietary crisis. Bittman’s proclivity to position the eater as a powerful decision-maker and federal food policy reform as the most effective path forward obscures much of the reality of who holds the power in today’s international food system.

Photograph by Nicole Neily—Getty Images 

The Last State Standing Against Corporate Farming Weighs A Change

Posted Leah Douglas Leah Douglas, Pork

State Senator Ken Schilz introduced LB 176 in the Nebraska state legislature in January to overturn a 15-year-old law – the Competitive Livestock Markets Act – that bans corporations from owning livestock except in the days immediately before slaughter. Known colloquially as the “packer ban,” the law was intended to force corporations to buy their animals from independent producers, thereby supporting a competitive livestock market. What would the impact of this law be on hog farmers?

 

Red Meat: Smithfield Foods and Communist China are a Match Made in Heaven

Posted Christopher Leonard Chris Leonard, Foreign Ownership, Pork

At the end of last month, China’s biggest meat producer revealed its plans to buy Smithfield Foods for $4.7 billion. In doing so, Shuanghui International Holdings is poised to take over more than one-quarter of the entire U.S. pork industry in one fell swoop.

To understand what the Shuanghui deal means for Americans, it is critical to understand what Smithfield is, and how it came to be the world’s biggest pork producer. Smithfield isn’t just a big pork company; it’s an entirely new kind of pork company, one that has transformed what it means to be a hog farmer.