Veganism is being advanced as the most ethical way to sustain the planet, and to promote human health and animal welfare. But along with that, ranchers and small- and medium-scale beef-packers are being marginalized. The very consumption of meat is being damned. Deploying outright lies, a misguided agenda threatens individual liberty and our freedom to farm, own livestock, control our land, and choose our diet.
The socialist roster of lies about meat-eating must be countered. One of the biggest lies is that veganism protects the environment. But according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality extension specialist at the University of California Davis, if the entire population of the U.S. became vegan for a year, emissions would be reduced by a mere 2.6%. He also says advocates of the Green New Deal have been dishonest about the water input assigned to beef. Cattle mostly ingest green water or rainwater. What’s more, they soon release much of that back to earth by urination — which cannot be said of trees.
Another big lie is that beef production causes substantial waste of crops that could be consumed by humans. But it’s not as if beef cattle are mostly fed grain that humans may consume. In fact, 84% of livestock feed is inedible to humans — corn husk, oat straw, almond hulls, soybean skins, and other agricultural waste. In a sense, livestock convert what we cannot eat into what we can — namely, dairy products and beef, both sources of high-quality protein. Forty-eight percent of our protein — and only 24% of our calorie intake — comes from animal sources. American practices add to that nature-driven energy efficiency: with just 6% of the world’s herd, we supply 18% of the world’s beef.
In terms of land use, too, it is livestock that create a beneficial cycle. Two-thirds of our food-producing land is considered marginal: it’s rocky, hilly, or dry or has poor soil. Without ruminants, which upcycle whatever grows on marginal land into nutritious, digestible beef and dairy products, most of our land would go waste. Cattle also produce manure, which accounts for half of all fertilizers used worldwide to grow fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Methane has been much maligned by leftist environmentalists, but it accounts for only 10% of total greenhouse gases in the U.S. Moreover, cows do not add “new” carbon to the atmosphere. The methane they emit ultimately comes from the carbon in the air, which is taken up by grass and plants during photosynthesis. Cattle feeding on the grass and plants send back the same carbon into the atmosphere as methane in their flatus. The slowest part of this cycle is the breakdown of methane into water and carbon dioxide, which takes 10–12 years. After this, plants use carbon dioxide and water again, and the cycle continues.
Wasted food — one-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste — results in far more greenhouse gas production than eating meat. Not only are the energy, water, and other input used to grow the food wasted, but it also rots in landfills, producing methane and other greenhouse gases. Meat and dairy make up only 14% of our food waste, while fruits and vegetables make up 42% and grain 22%. Giving up meat would therefore result in significantly more wasted food and proportionately more greenhouse gases.
In fact, it’s irresponsible to advocate that cutting meat consumption will improve the climate and save the Earth. But ranching and meat-eating have been targeted, though they don’t have any demonstrably significant impact on global temperatures. The attack has been multipronged, via leftists, socialists, environmentalists, and the woke brigade, who have together weaponized a dangerous conflation of politics and bad science. The cui bono, as usual, points ultimately to multinational corporations (MNCs) — in this case, the meat-packing oligopoly.
The inescapable grip of the Big Four beef processors in the U.S. — Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef Packing Co. — on the system became evident in the last two years. These corporations control 85% of the meat processed in the U.S. In 2019, a Tyson plant in Kansas closed for four months after a fire in August. The next year, the pandemic caused the closure of all plants. And in May of this year, a ransomware attack caused JBS to close all its plants temporarily. In the absence of a market for their cattle, ranchers found cattle prices dropping (about $100 per head), while packers, wholesalers, and retailers were raking it in ($900–1,000) because of the shortage. Between the fire and the start of the pandemic, the difference between the price of live cattle and packed meat rose to a record high, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
How was this oligopoly established? Since the seventies, bigger plants have become more and more profitable because they are able to lower the per-head cost of slaughtering cattle and processing meat. They have bought up smaller plants and put mom-and-pop farms out of business by buying up ranches and large parcels of farmland. Ranchers no longer have many buyers to sell to. Feed shortages and rising feed costs force them to either auction off or cull their cattle. A recent lawsuit charges the Big Four with a “concerted scheme to artificially constrain the supply of beef entering the domestic supply chain” since 2015. The unprecedented result of such concerted subterfuge is that ranchers are losing money, while packers are getting rich.
And not unlike the way Big Tobacco has invested heavily in smokeless tobacco products, e-cigarettes, patches, and other direct delivery mechanisms for nicotine, the Big Four have all invested heavily in lab-cultured fake beef. JBS, contending that meat from animals will be a pricey luxury in the future, is planning to set up a global company focused solely on plant-based products. Tyson entered the plant-based meat market in 2019 and plans to expand its share. Their attempt to displace meat, end ranching, and profit nevertheless are insidiously bolstered by a fashionable, leftist-environmentalist lobby that claims the ethical high ground.
A couple of congressional bills may help independent ranchers stay afloat. The first is the Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) bill, which will ensure that only meat from animals born, raised, and processed in the country will bear a “Product of the USA” label. Meat-packers have been cheating on this for a long time, importing cheap meat to undercut local ranchers. The bill will prevent poor-quality imported beef from being packed and sold as an American product and, according to R-CALF USA, restore $20 billion in lost revenue to the cattle industry. Another bill that will help ranchers is the Processing Revival and Intrastate Mean Exemption Act or PRIME Act, which Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has been advocating for. The bill exempts meat sold to in-state consumers and businesses from USDA inspection requirements.
We must fight back on many fronts to be able to choose what we eat and, more importantly, to preserve our constitutional republic and traditions. Henry Kissinger said, “If you control the food supply, you control the people.” American citizens must do everything to prevent MNCs from achieving that control. One small way they can do that is to buy local meat — directly from ranchers, listed by region at USABeef.org.
“You are not going to eat beef in the future — I one hundred percent guarantee it.“
Political commentator and rancher Glenn Beck stresses each of those words at the beginning of his recent video. He explains that in the not too distant future, public land will not be used for cattle grazing, resulting in government-imposed meat shortages. Beck worries that our food supply will be crippled by the globalists, and Americans will no longer have control over what they eat, how it is processed, and what it costs.✪