Fewer meat packers threatens our national security

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Over the last year, meat prices have gone up by 15 percent for Americans — meaning higher prices for the beef they’ll grill, smoke, and barbeque this summer. 

That’s not the fault of America’s ranchers, and it’s certainly not the fault of the truck drivers working overtime to haul meat to the supermarket. A wide range of factors is causing price increases — but one factor is staring us in the face: consolidation in the meat packing industry.  

The four big meat packers are raking in record profits, while the average cattle producer’s share of the retail value of beef has decreased: from more than 50 cents on the dollar in 2015 to less than 37 cents on the dollar last year. This loss means that many ranchers are being forced to shut down their operations — abandoning a way of life that has often been in their family for generations. Since 1980, 40 percent of U.S. cattle producers have gone out of business while consolidation in the meat packing industry has climbed to over 80 percent. 

Meanwhile, Cargill reported the biggest profits in its 156-year history. Tyson saw a double-digit profit increase last quarter,

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