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The Public Is Getting Totally Ripped off on the Price of Meat, and Doesn't Know It

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page, Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our CAFO's vs. Free Range page.

The following is an excerpt from Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much-and How to Eat Better, Live Longer, and Spend Smarter by David Robinson Simon  ( Conari Press, 2013):

Imagine a bakery that sells every cake, pie, or loaf of bread for a dollar less than it costs to make. It's a challenging business model, to say the least. But instead of going out of business, say the shop flourishes and expands, adding more ovens and increasing output for years. Impossible, right?

For a bakery, maybe. But not for America's big producers of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. The animal food industry actually uses this contrarian business model with surprising success. Take hog farmers, who routinely spend an average of eight dollars more raisĀ­ing each pig than the animal yields when sold.  The farmers, at least the big corporate operators, are in hog heaven. That's because government subsidies actually make this business model profitable for those at the top. For the same reason, corporate beef producers routinely spend from $20 to $90 more than each animal's value to raise cattle.

Each year, American taxpayers dish out $38 billion to subsidize meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. To put this corporate welfare package in perspective, it's nearly half the total unemployment benefits paid by all fifty US states to unemployed workers in 2012.  However, as we'll see, unlike unemployment payments, subsidies don't actually benefit many Americans-nor many farmers-and they are often disbursed in illogical and unfair ways. Consider this: media mogul Ted Turner and former NBA star Scottie Pippen were among the more than one thousand non-farming New York City residents to pick up farming checks from the federal government in 2007.   


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