Beef prices alone jumped 12.2% over the last year, according to new consumer inflation data on Tuesday, making it one of the costliest items in the surging bills that consumers face today at the grocery store.
"It's just outrageous. I can't even understand how people are supposed to be able to pay that kind of money for basic stuff like ground beef," says Adam Jones, who raises Angus cattle in northwest Kansas. "We're not talking about filet mignon. We're just talking about being able to make spaghetti or being able to make tacos."
The surge in meat prices is contributing to high inflation. The Labor Department reported Tuesday that consumer price index rose 5.3% in the 12 months ending in August. That's down slightly from June and July when inflation was running at 5.4% — but it's still near the highest level in nearly 13 years. Pork prices jumped 9.8% in the last year while chicken prices jumped 7.2%.
More than 80% of the beef in the U.S. is slaughtered and processed by just four big companies, including Tyson Foods and JBS USA. A similar handful of companies also controls processing of more than half the chicken in the country and two-thirds of the pork.
That means farmers and ranchers have few choices of where to sell their livestock.
Jones calls himself a conservative Republican. But he welcomes the administration's push to bring more competition to the highly consolidated meatpacking industry.
"There has been merger after merger," Jones said. "It's really gotten to the point where there's no competition in our industry at all."
The administration says industry giants like Tyson and Smithfield have such a stranglehold on processing operations that they can command higher prices at the supermarket, while also putting the squeeze on farmers, who in some cases can't even cover their costs.
"Farmers are losing money on cattle, hogs and poultry that they're selling at a time when consumers are seeing higher prices at the grocery store," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week. "And there are now record profits or near-record profits for those in the middle.
"I remember talking to a producer the other day in Council Bluffs [Iowa], and he said, 'I don't get this. I just sold my cattle and lost $150 a head. But the processor made $1,800 a head. How can that be?' " Vilsack said
Задача капиталиста не создать лучший товар и предложить самую выгодную цену, а создать монополию и пожинать её плоды. В Америке цены на мясо выросли за год на 10% примерно, при этом фермеры терпят убытки, продавая мясо дешевле чем было, а перекупщики пожинают баснословные барыши, перепродавая мясо с колоссальной прибылью. Мол, проблемы логистики! Стоит добавить, что 4 компании контролируют 80% рынка говядины. Ну тут-то карта им и поперла!