“THE AUTOMATED JUNGLE”
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“THE AUTOMATED JUNGLE” --Jeremy Rifkin AND “ ‘THOSE BASTARDS CAN GO TO HELL!’ SMALL FARMERS RESISTANCE TO VERTICAL INTEGRATION AND CONCENTRATION IN THE PORK INDUSTRY” --Mark Grey. THE AUTOMATED JUNGLE.

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THE AUTOMATED JUNGLE

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The automated jungle

“THE AUTOMATED JUNGLE” --Jeremy RifkinAND“ ‘THOSE BASTARDS CAN GO TO HELL!’ SMALL FARMERS RESISTANCE TO VERTICAL INTEGRATION AND CONCENTRATION IN THE PORK INDUSTRY” --Mark Grey


The automated jungle

THE AUTOMATED JUNGLE

  • In 1904, Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle; public reaction set into motion new regulations in the meatpacking industry.

    • “Whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, they either canned it or else chopped it in to sausage... There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage… It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poison bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread and meat would go into the hopper together”


Has it really gotten better

HAS IT REALLY GOTTEN BETTER?

  • Since The Jungle was written, there has been little written about the conditions in slaughter houses.

  • People, for the most part, assume that the USDA and FDA are doing their jobs, and that our meat is safe to eat.

  • The author brings this into question, and looks into how much the regulations on slaughter houses actually affect the meatpacking process.


The new system

THE NEW SYSTEM

  • In 1985, the NAS (National Academy of Sciences) recommended that USDA regulations be made stricter

  • However, instead, the USDA implemented the Streamlined Inspection System (SIS). This system essentially means that the slaughter houses police themselves. USDA officials working in the factories are stripped of their authority.

    • Inspectors only inspect as few as 3 in 1000 carcasses

    • The production line is not allowed to stop!

    • Inspectors “examine” the meat from 15 feet away, behind a mirror, through fog.

    • Federal inspectors spend more time checking paperwork than beef.

    • Re: Wilmar family butcher


Is the fox guarding the chicken house

IS THE FOX GUARDING THE CHICKEN HOUSE?

  • When the companies that are making the meat are able to regulate their own meat, their first goal is profit, not health or safety.

  • Many of the “quality control” workers are inexperienced and would be unable to detect flawed meat, even if they were allowed to.

    • Quality control workers “were so poorly trained that they could not recognize infection until the pus came oozing out of abscesses.”

  • Stopping the line or complaining gets workers fired or moved to more dangerous jobs.

  • “Never Stop the Line” is the First Commandment


Inspections gone wrong

INSPECTIONS GONE WRONG

  • "We used to trim the shit off the meat. Then we washed the shit off the meat. Now the consumer eats the shit off the meat.“

    • David CarneyUSDA Meat Inspector

  • The incidence of salmonellosis doubled since the implementation of SIS

  • Cows that have died from diseases are slaughtered with the rest.

  • Some of the meat has turned green because of its age.


Disease

DISEASE

  • BLV (Bovine Leukemia Virus) has been found in 20% of cows and 60% of herds in the United States.

  • There is a link between BLV and leukemia in humans.

  • Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus is also transferable to humans.

  • In 1991, the USDA released a study suggesting that cow AIDS is widespread among dairy cows and beef cattle.


Conclusion

CONCLUSION

  • The new meat inspection system is similar to other aspects of the meat production industry, as it values profit and efficiency at the cost of health and safety.


The automated jungle

“ ‘THOSE BASTARDS CAN GO TO HELL!’ SMALL FARMERS RESISTANCE TO VERTICAL INTEGRATION AND CONCENTRATION IN THE PORK INDUSTRY”

  • Like many industries, the concentration of the pork industry is incredibly imbalanced.

    • 50 companies control 60% of the hog inventory

    • 10 top companies control 25%

  • The price of hogs has declined dramatically.

    • In 1999, hogs were going for an average of $8.00 for 100 pounds- $27 less than the break even point for farmers.

    • One farmer remarked that it would “cost more to buy a stuffed baby-pig doll at the shopping mall than to buy a live 250-pound hog


Get big get integrated or get out

GET BIG, GET INTEGRATED, OR GET OUT

  • There is another option!!

    • Farmers can continue farming and market for niche markets.

    • This is the story of a group of farmers who created a co-op in order to continue farming.


Elma and alta vista iowa

ELMA AND ALTA VISTA, IOWA

  • These two small towns have one shared grain elevator, Howard County Equity, that is operated by a farmer-owned cooperative.

  • Howard County Equity encouraged small farmers to raise free-range hogs.

  • Hogs have space to eat, sleep, and produce waste in different places.

  • Free range hogging, as opposed to confinement buildings, allow the hogs to dig freely and let out their frustrations so that they don’t act out.

  • Free range hog farms can compost hog waste


Confinement buildings

CONFINEMENT BUILDINGS

  • Confinement buildings allow farmers to grow more hogs, but the hogs do not lead happy lives.

  • Hogs are forced to dung where they eat and sleep, and have no access to the outdoors, which adds to their stress.

  • Hogs produce 2.5 times more waste than humans, and when they are all confined to one space, this waste contaminates the ground and water.


Competition

COMPETITION

  • Farmers in Elma and Alta Vista came to realize that they could no longer compete with these large corporations that raised pigs in confinement buildings.

  • Contract farming became a last resort for farmers

  • Contract farming lowered prices overall, harming the farmers who had not made this switch.


Forming a free range pork cooperative

FORMING A FREE RANGE PORK COOPERATIVE

  • Farmers realized they had a better chance of survival if they worked together.

  • “Bob” is the farmer who initiated the cooperative, by approaching farmers and encouraging them to meet the standards required by Niman Ranch to qualify as natural, free-range hogs.

  • Bob said of the contractors, “Those bastards can go to hell!”

  • Farmers had mixed reactions to Bob, some laughed at him, some were interested but unwilling to participate, and some followed him.


Finding a niche market

FINDING A NICHE MARKET

  • The farmers who were forming the co-op stereotyped the purchasers of their food as wealthy and urban. However, they were also the ones willing to pay more for the free-range pork.

  • The farmers created a name for themselves that they thought would reach their niche market, “Fresh Air Pork Circle.”

  • No one took out loans to start the Fresh Air Pork Circle, meaning that there was a low risk for farmers involved.

  • Farmers sold their meat to whole foods markets, health food stores, and restaurants.


Trials and troubles along the way

TRIALS AND TROUBLES ALONG THE WAY

  • The members of the Fresh Air Pork Circle faced ridicule from their peers who hoped and expected that their experiment would fail.

  • The failure would assure farmers who had turned to contract farming that they had not given in too soon.

  • Many contract farmers felt that if Fresh Air failed it would prove that free-range hogs are no better than their own hogs.


Taking the extra step towards organic

TAKING THE EXTRA STEP TOWARDS ORGANIC

  • Bob took an extra step that other farmers in the cooperative were skeptical of: organic hogs.

  • Bob felt that free-range hogs did not go far enough. It took three years for his fields to be chemical-free so that he could feed his hogs organic grain.

  • Some farmers saw this as a threat to the co-op, because not everyone was able to raise organic hogs to meet this even more specialized market.


Active resistance or prolonging the inevitable

ACTIVE RESISTANCE OR PROLONGING THE INEVITABLE?

  • Farmers did not expect to get rich from the co-op but hoped to be able to survive through it.

  • Were the farmers motivated and patient enough to get off the ground? Marketing was a major part of the co-op, and would take time away from farming.

  • One year later, the membership of the co-op grew. However, they still were facing troubles selling very much pork.

    • Maintaining a community took precedence over selling hogs.

    • There is hope!


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