Two thousand ranchers and cattle producers converged upon Ft. Collins today to try to have their voices heard regarding the manipulation of their business by the consolidated meat packing industry. The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 which was established to protect from monopolies in meatpacking is not being enforced. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Attorney General Holder are in Ft. Collins for the USDA/DOJ hearings and meetings. Ranchers selling cattle are experiencing a lack of competitive bids at the time of livestock sales. This problem makes it more and more difficult for the smaller family operations to operate profitably.
According to Farmgate,
Ward reports there were 145 beef slaughtering plants in 1976 which could handle an annual run of 50,000 head or more. Some were owned by individual companies and other firms owned numerous plants. By 2006 that number of plants had declined to 36 and 14 of them accounted for more than 70% of the total slaughter. Plant size grew, and firms consolidated. In 1976 the four largest firms, a group that can exercise market power, accounted for 25% of the slaughter, but in 2007, those four largest firms had 80% of the slaughter.
Source: New West Politics