This is an extremely important report on the interference and support of governments around the world, on behalf of mega corporations to end anything but industrialized food production.  This article deals with the meat trade, and it does not take much to see that the eradication of our cattle ranchers is on the horizon as multi-national corporations use government to run them out of business in favor of “globalism” a euphamistic term used to replace the term “fascism”.  S.510, the fake food safety bill now in the Senate, would seal the deal for US farmers and ranchers and hand our agricultural sector over to multi-national conglomerates.  Marti

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 Live Link: Big Meat is growing in the South

GRAIN

People in the South appear to be eating a lot more meat these days. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that per capita meat consumption in developing countries doubled between 1980 and 2005, while the consumption of eggs more than tripled. What happened? According to some, the main factor has been rising incomes in Asia. But the bigger factor is on the supply side. Agribusiness corporations, backed by massive subsidies and government support, have ramped up global industrial meat production to formidable levels over recent decades, with devastating consequences for people, animals and the environment. Much of this is now happening in the South, where a rising group of home-grown transnational corporations (TNCs) is joining ranks with the older firms from the North to push Big Meat into every corner of the planet.

What is fuelling the galloping market for meat in the countries of the South? The short answer is an abundance of cheap, factory-farmed meat, behind which stands an abundance of cheap feed. Today’s explosion in meat consumption in the South is really just round two of what happened years ago in the North, when companies began setting up factory farms and feedlots to convert mountains of subsidised cereals and oilseeds into animal protein for fast-food kitchens and supermarket aisles. The excess meat, from frozen chicken legs to cow entrails, was – and continues to be – dumped on poorer countries.

Big Meat – a collective name for the large corporations running meat production and trade – gets all kinds of subsidies in the US and Europe. Some argue that the actual price of a pound of hamburger meat in the United States should be around US$30 instead of the US$1–2 it sells for at mass retail centres.1 If subsidies on feed alone were removed, the operating costs for US meat companies would be about 10 per cent higher, and you would likely start seeing fruit and vegetable stands replacing KFCs and McDonald’s in poor neighbourhoods.2 Meanwhile, the average cow in the European Union gets US$2.50 per day in subsidies, while two-thirds of the people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than US$2 a day.3 People in the US and Europe, especially the poor, are pretty much forced to eat cheap meat. And that model is now being pushed the world over.

Box 1: Foreign investors take over Uruguayan farmsUruguay’s beef and dairy sectors, prized for their export potential, have become hot destinations for foreign investors. Exports of beef from Uruguay have more than quadrupled since 1995. But in the same period, the industry has been taken over by foreign meat packers, and even the country’s cattle ranches are being bought up by foreign investors. Around 60 per cent of Uruguay’s beef exports are controlled by foreign companies, with Brazil’s Marfrig alone controlling nearly 30 per cent.

When it comes to dairy, Uruguay is the world’s fastest-growing producer and the fifth-largest exporter. Here, too, a similar surge of foreign investment has occurred. One company buying into Uruguayan dairy operations is New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay. It was set up by Kiwi investors, but is now the subject of a hostile takeover bid from one of the world’s largest commodity traders, Olam, of Singapore, which already owns around 14 per cent of the company’s shares. In August 2010 there was a rival bid for the company from a Uruguayan firm. But appearances deceive. The firm in question, Union Agriculture Group, is hardly Uruguayan at all. Its two founders from Montevideo control just 14 per cent of the shares. The rest is owned by BlackRock, Deutsche Bank and other foreign financial investors who have poured money into UAG as a way to boost their portfolios. [1]

1 – Marta Steeman, “Competing offer drives up shares”, Business Day, 17 August 2010.

US meat companiesmeat packers, Cheap feed is the bedrock of the US and European meat industry, and the lobbies of the transnational meat corporations such as Cargill, Tyson and Danish Crown, and their allies in food service and retail, are bent on making sure that these subsidies will not disappear soon. Of course, new sources of cheap feedstock have been opened up – especially the new expanses of soya production in the Argentine Pampas and the Brazilian Amazon – but this has not altered the dynamics. It has only fuelled the expansion of the meat industry to other parts of the globe.

Soya production has grown tenfold since 1960 (see Graph 1). The amount of fertile land devoted to producing this animal feed crop increased by 58 per cent since 1990, most of it in Brazil and Argentina. During the same period, the amount of land available for crops that people can eat directly has been in steady decline.4 Moreover, soya is just one of the commodities typically turned into animal feed. Cassava, maize and other cereals have also witnessed a tremendous expansion in their production and use as industrial animal feed. READ MORE AT GRAIN

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