The demand for locally produced meats is well-documented, and there are farmers eager to produce it. Too often the bottleneck in this scenario is simply an absence of independent processing facilities. A new report by Food and Water Watch explores the reasons behind this absence and the changes that would be needed to rectify it. Entitled, "Where's the Local Beef?," the report describes an monopolistic industry that favors large operations at the expense of smaller ones. Despite a large number of small start-ups, the authors note that most of these will go out of business. The current regulatory and industrial climate is just not designed for independent slaughter plants - existing or planned. Among the obstacles faced by smaller plants (defined as having fewer than 500 employees) are: scale-inappropriate regulations, lack of skilled personnel, and a near absence of competition in the industry. For instance in 2005, the top four beef-packing companies controlled over 80% of the market...
Food Democracy Now’s Dave Murphy has brought to our attention today’s deadline for closing a loophole that allows subsidy payments for large corporations. Murphy says of these subsidies,
“As part of his 2010 budget, the President proposed phasing-out direct payments in an attempt to save $9.8 billion over 10 years. Currently direct payments, which total $5.2 billion a year, are paid regardless of crop prices and are not tied to need.”
This means: Even in times of high commodity prices, corporate farmers still get a paycheck from the government…Today’s current subsidy system allows large corporate farms to take advantage of subsidy loopholes that place independent family farmers at a serious competitive disadvantage.