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Growing Concern over Declining Livestock Farms

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New information on the dwindling numbers of livestock producers in the U.S. has prompted a series of meetings led by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak over the last few months. Discussed during the meetings is the startling statistic that the number of cattle and hog farms has shrunk 55 percent since 1980.

The USDA made an attempt to confront this issue with the release of a new proposal that would require U.S. meat processing companies to explain their decision of purchasing livestock from one hog or cattle farmer over another. The proposal would address the concern of many small scale livestock producers who believe that the reduction in livestock producers is the result of the control of a few of processing companies who get better prices from large scale livestock farms.

The new proposal has met with controversy. Larger processing companies continue to push for less government involvement while small cattle and hog farms counter argue by saying it’s a struggle to find processors and the market is no longer open or competitive.

The last in the series of meetings will be held in December as the USDA and Secretary Vilsak work to properly address this matter.

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