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From Brazilian Beef To Petri Dish Protein, America’s Ranchers Need to Push Back Now

There’s a great deal of excitement in the beef cattle business today. 

Prices are finally headed in the right direction, and there’s a rally cry from weary cattlemen and women, who have a renewed spirit to keep pressing forward in an industry that is far from easy.

Yet, even as we feel this glimmer of hope on the horizon, the lingering elephant in the room is the deck is very much stacked against the livestock producer in this country.

Volatility in the marketplace is fueled by war activity halfway around the world. Lack of labeling transparency allows for foreign meat to flood our grocery shelves. Four major packers hold captive 85% of the beef market. 

Animal rights activists are determined to shape the farm bill in their favor with a goal of crippling animal ownership in this country. Meanwhile, environmental extremists are using green policies as a trojan horse to trample our private property rights. 

And the list goes on. 

But if you’re in production agriculture, stewarding the land and livestock, I don’t need to remind you of the challenges.

While most folks just want to keep their heads down and focus on the day-to-day tasks of running livestock operations, the wolves are at the pasture gates, and we can no longer afford to ignore them.

Take, for example, this week’s trending headlines. A June 22nd hearing in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance highlighted the challenges of cattle supply chains and deforestation of the Amazon. Providing testimonies were Leo McDonnell, owner/operator of McDonnell Angus in Columbus, MT; Jason Weller, JBS Global Chief Sustainability Officers; Rick Jacobsen, Environmental Investigation Agency US Manger of Commodities Policy; and Ryan C. Berg, Ph.D. Center for Strategic and International Studies Director of Americas Program.

In his testimony, McDonnell criticized JBS for deforestation, as well as their ethical history in Brazil, citing forced labor, child labor, and bribing government officials. Meanwhile, in the United States, JBS carries the “Product of the USA” stamp, if the meat is processed or packaged in the U.S.

"They get to launder their product through here to unsuspecting consumers," said McDonnell.

Weller, representing JBS, stressed that the company has plans to implement a policy of “zero deforestation from indirect suppliers by 2025. 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “The bottom line here is American ranchers are not getting a fair shake.” He explained how the company is hiding the origin of its cattle, while “greenwashing” consumers about the problem. 

In the same week that Congress was considering the ramifications of the $1 billion in Brazilian beef that is imported into the United States, USDA quietly approved the first “lab-grown” meat to be sold to the public.

The FDA issued a “no questions” responses to GOOD Meat, stating the company’s lab-grown chicken product is safe for human consumption.

"We have no questions at this time regarding GOOD Meat’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material are as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods," the FDA said in a letter to the company.

The FDA’s letter "clears a crucial step in bringing GOOD Meat to restaurants and retail in the US," GOOD Meat said in a statement, adding that it "is now working with the USDA on necessary approvals.”

Listen, I’m not afraid of competition in the meat case. Beef can compete against any protein. It’s a well-loved and enjoyed food that is highly sought after here and around the world. 

However, these alternative protein companies that are claiming to be “meat” are anything but. I am worried about the safety, ethics, nutritional profile, and environmental impacts of these products, and I am angry that these investors can simply make broad-sweeping claims that disparage beef without sound science to back it up. 

The moral of the story is this — nobody is going to fight harder for your future than you. Nobody has a better story than the American cattle rancher. Nobody is going to work harder to protect your future in this industry than those of us with skin in the game. 

We need to get off defense and move to an offensive approach — one where we loudly tell the world these alternative products are processed junk food; one where we boldly share the good news about the environmental benefits of ruminant animals on the land; and one where we bravely fight for our kids and grandkids and the future of animal agriculture in this country. 

Don’t count on a lobbyist to get it done for you. If it is to be, it is up to you and me. Get active in your sphere of influence on a local, state or national level, and let’s get to work to keep families on the land and meat, dairy, and eggs on the plate.  


  • There are those of us who chose not to consume the flesh of animals! And it is for a number of reasons! Dairy calves are ripped from their mothers at birth! Sows are bred over and over! Then kept in steel crates without the ability to care for their young before they are ripped away! Once these sows and cows are spent from this life they are sent to slaughter! And hens raised in cramped cages with no room to move! And then trucked to slaughter plants where they are killed by dropping them in boiling water head first! And you all call this HUMANE! And male dairy calves ripped from their mothers to be sold to Calve Jockeys to be raised for veal! And some of these babies never make it! And you call this HUMANE! Our Public Lands are filled with cattle & livestock while other Wildlife are rounded up, sent to auctions and slaughter! And yet you claim this is for the American people and YOU Import a huge number of livestock from Brazil!

    I am glad to see alternative products available to the consumer! It’s about time! Today there are many great alternatives to eating the flesh of other animals! And I am glad to see so many different products available for us to purchase! You can continue the propaganda with some believing it! But I do not!

  • It is a fight we must win.

    Richard Huck

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