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Visited Slaughterhouse in Nebraska - Page 3

post #31 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ben39 View Post
BS. Isn't MacDonald's the major buyer of beef in the US? And isn't America the most obese country in the world? People don't need to eat meat 3 times a day 7 days a week. People need to be eating more fruit and vegetables and less processed junk. Sure... free range, grass fed (or whatever) meat is more expensive but it just reflects the true cost of raising cattle. We spend a far less proportion of our salary on groceries than we did 50 years ago.
They may be the largest buyer of beef in the US, but they are not the major buyer. As for the rest, you would like to enforce on others the lifestyle and eating style you see best. I don't have any interest in doing that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaxixi View Post
IM(unsupported)O, agricultural subsidies and policies frequently favor large farms and are a big part of why our food production is as industrialized as it is. It's not all returns to scale.
I think that is also right, but I don't for a second believe that subsidies are the reason that we have modern farming and ranching methods. I think they help define what the producers look like, but there is a limit as to how much food per acre can be produced using traditional farming and ranching.
post #32 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post

I think that is also right, but I don't for a second believe that subsidies are the reason that we have modern farming and ranching methods. I think they help define what the producers look like, but there is a limit as to how much food per acre can be produced using traditional farming and ranching.

The PIC program (that was the acronym, right?) put my grandparents out of business in the 80's. I'm not lamenting that too much, things change.

But you may remember farmers being paid not to farm in the late 70's early 80's to manage supply. Whole farms went fallow... so the support businesses, like my families' that sold grain bins, harvesters etc... were driven out of business because their customers no longer needed them. So in central Nebraska, it started a process by which the land of many of these small farms were bought up... and in the mid 80's returned to farming as much larger operations (talking grains here). But there were 1) no longer any local business to sell and service their equipment, tractors etc... and besides, the farms, the low prices, and the market demands meant that the combines they sold, etc were too small and inefficient to clear 800 acres fast enough anyway.
So in lands CAT with the next generation of massive harvesters with double the width, early navigation controls and other equipment that greatly "improved" the harvest time.

What nobody predicted? These newer "large" farms didn't have the capital to replace their 30 year old combine with a $400,000 combine. (Which, by the way, impacted some of the "gypsy" harvesters. Farmers who gave up their own operations to follow the harvest with their combine and trucks to be hired by small farmers... only these mom and pop shops couldn't afford the new equipment and funny thing, it was also too big to take on the road).

So they then sold to larger operations with the ability to borrow more capital... and so on and so on...

Not to mention the crap economics of the 80's: http://blog.alextiller.com/BlogRetri...9&PostID=54343
post #33 of 74
Sure, just think that smaller, more specialized farms would be more competitive.

Off the top of my head, examples of subsidies that favor industrial farming disproportionally are building roads and subsidizing gas (this makes transportation over longer distance cheaper), subsidizing electricity (this makes refrigeration cheaper), subsidizing "staple" crops like corn over niche ones like unusual hop varieties or heirloom tomatoes (subsidizing water probably has the same effect), developing "safety" standards that favor incumbents or encourage large-scale production (small-scale meat producers complain about this all the time), and so on...

This is striking (though not causal evidence, of course):

Quote:
The beneficiaries of the subsidies have changed as agriculture in the United States has changed. In the 1930s, about 25% of the country's population resided on the nation's 6,000,000 small farms. By 1997, 157,000 large farms accounted for 72% of farm sales, with only 2% of the U.S. population residing on farms. In 2006, the top 3 states receiving subsidies were Texas (10.4%), Iowa (9.0%), and Illinois (7.6%). The Total USDA Subsidies from farms in Iowa totaled $1,212,000,000 in 2006.[13] From 2003 to 2005 the top 1% of beneficiaries received 17% of subsidy payments.[13] In Texas, 72% of farms do not receive government subsidies. Of the close to $1.4 Billion in subsidy payments to farms in Texas, roughly 18% of the farms receive a portion of the payments.[14]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy
post #34 of 74
Oh, duh, here's another important one: any policy that mitigates risk (e.g., price floors) reduces the need for diversification and promotes large-scale production of one crop.
post #35 of 74
In 1952, farmer's earned 47% of every dollar, today it's just under 20%.
post #36 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaxixi View Post
Sure, just think that smaller, more specialized farms would be more competitive.

Off the top of my head, examples of subsidies that favor industrial farming disproportionally are building roads and subsidizing gas (this makes transportation over longer distance cheaper), subsidizing electricity (this makes refrigeration cheaper), subsidizing "staple" crops like corn over niche ones like unusual hop varieties or heirloom tomatoes (subsidizing water probably has the same effect), developing "safety" standards that favor incumbents or encourage large-scale production (small-scale meat producers complain about this all the time), and so on...

This is striking (though not causal evidence, of course):

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaxixi View Post
Oh, duh, here's another important one: any policy that mitigates risk (price floors) reduces the need for diversification and promotes large-scale production of one crop.

These are interesting arguments. I think they are right on the money, but as you are not sure they are causal, I am pretty sure they are not. The subsidy issue is a big one, and I would be thrilled to see them decreased or eliminated, though we both know that will not happen.

What I don't think, however, is that the use of larger farms and the use of corn and other industrial processes would not exist without these subsidies. I'm not sure it is entirely useful to make the above living comparisons and highlight only ag, as so many other things have changed in the economy and in everyday life. Increased levels of cleanliness, and the expectation of daily cleaning etc are not nearly as compatible with local farms and their their byproducts as the life of yesteryear was, no more than 100 years ago people would have been comfortable travelling with their cows across country as they did a hundred years before. All of these various changes in preference change how food can be raised, and where it can be raised.

Finally, there really is still the question of which tastes better. I am not so quick to be sure grass tastes better than corn, and in a lot of cases I don't think it does. If I prefer corn (I don't know that I do) this will also change the signals I send to beef producers, irrespective of subsidies.
post #37 of 74
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaxixi View Post
From what I've read, beef has been corn-fed almost exclusively in North America (England, too, but they don't eat as much beef as we do), for only the past 150 years or so (and ubiquitously for much less).

Well, damn, how back are we going to go? My point was that corn-fed beef wasn't a new development. You just agreed with me. I have a brother-in-law who works for a German-based natural food color company. He's German and heads up the US arm of that company. When his German bosses show up in the States for several visits each year, they insist on eating in NYC steak houses every night. They want big, corn-fed American steaks as their beef is not of the same quality. I know very few (hell, I know of none - but there must be a few) chefs who import European beef.

In an ideal world, we'd all eat fresh, local, humanely raised meat & produce. No one would be poor or go without healthcare. We'd also raise our kids without television, wear handmade shoes, and we'd all be so slim that BB Slim fit shirts fit us like tents. There's a roadblock on the way to idealism; it's called realism and we have to make the best of it.

The ironic part is I'm a tenured college professor and department chair. It's just a culinary arts program, but still, shouldn't I be the one living in the ivory tower?
post #38 of 74
I do prefer the taste of grass fed to corn fed. I have limited experience with it because it's hard to find. Also, what I have bought tends to be the "good" stuff, i.e., expensive, so maybe I am mistaking quality for some mythical grass fed flavor. But a couple of times the difference was so great that it was almost like eating a different food.
post #39 of 74
You'll have to forgive me if I think that it's amusing that you consider Food Inc. unfair and imbalanced but a tour of a plant given by the beef lobby to be fair and balanced...
post #40 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
I do prefer the taste of grass fed to corn fed. I have limited experience with it because it's hard to find. Also, what I have bought tends to be the "good" stuff, i.e., expensive, so maybe I am mistaking quality for some mythical grass fed flavor. But a couple of times the difference was so great that it was almost like eating a different food.

While I am sure this is not universally true, I tend to find that pasture-raised, grass fed is always better quality given it's one of the reasons the rancher is in that biz. The flavor is a trait but not the only factor. As you well know, it can be very easy for somebody to quickly ruin a grass-fed steak if they treat it like a ypical corn-fed cut. Then they are left with the mistaken impression that grass fed is always "too dry... too tough... too rangey etc" when the fault is in the prep.

Not to mention the taste differences in 100% LIFETIME GRASS FED versus "grass finished".
post #41 of 74
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haganah View Post
You'll have to forgive me if I think that it's amusing that you consider Food Inc. unfair and imbalanced but a tour of a plant given by the beef lobby to be fair and balanced...

I don't consider either fair and balanced. They both have an agenda and I said that in my initial post.
post #42 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayland View Post
I don't consider either fair and balanced. They both have an agenda and I said that in my initial post.
But how do you deny what Food Inc. showed? I remember the pig plant and the things they talked about but I don't remember the Nebraska one. Is it not possible that the lobby, responding to a PR disaster, cleaned things up and invited folks like you to try and show a more positive image?
post #43 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by haganah View Post
You'll have to forgive me if I think that it's amusing that you consider Food Inc. unfair and imbalanced but a tour of a plant given by the beef lobby to be fair and balanced...

+1... that's exactly what I was saying.
post #44 of 74
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haganah View Post
But how do you deny what Food Inc. showed? I remember the pig plant and the things they talked about but I don't remember the Nebraska one. Is it not possible that the lobby, responding to a PR disaster, cleaned things up and invited folks like you to try and show a more positive image?

It's possible, but I don't think America is eating less meat than before due to Food Inc. Keep in mind that Food Inc. was a film edited down to about 1.5 hours using everything that went their way. Someone could make a film focusing exclusively on commercial airline disasters, but how many planes actually crash? It's awful when it does happen, but it's a tiny percentage of flights per day and doesn't respresent the industry as a whole. I'm not supporting the beef industry, I'm just being honest that both sides have an agenda. For many of you, it seems Food Inc. is the word of god and the beef industry if full of lies. Who's being naive?
post #45 of 74
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SField View Post
+1... that's exactly what I was saying.

Point out where I said either side was fair and balanced.
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