There’s been a lot of news to follow lately, and it seems farmers – poultry in particular – find themselves in it too often right now. With all that’s happening, you’d be forgiven if you haven’t followed the movement in Washington DC to fuel more competition among the major meat companies. While it may not be a headline grabbing story, I’d bet it’s an issue near-and-dear to any farmer, particularly given the continued consolidation among the big global meat brands. In the case of cattle, for instance, four companies control 85% of the beef market. The big just keep getting bigger.
I’ll leave it to economists far smarter than me to untangle the impact this has on prices consumers pay at the grocery store. Speaking as a farmer, however, I know the consolidation has severely limited the outlets most farmers have to sell the animals they’ve worked so hard to raise. Of course, when there’s only one buyer at an auction, the bidder sets the price.
I’d never heard the word monopsony until recently, but it turns out to be the opposite of a monopoly. In this case, only one buyer exists. That’s the reality for so many in farming today, and it’s squeezed some good farmers out of agriculture.
This is a forefront issue and one I’m passionate about. I share it with you today not to make you feel hopeless about the state of farming. Instead, I think it’s a reminder of the impact consumers make each time they seek out meat that comes from an independent farm like ours. Ferndale Market is proof that there’s still a space for independent family farms and we’re proud to be carving a different path. We can make change together.
The other newsworthy item that I should mention is the obvious worry about avian influenza. You’re surely seeing the stories of farms and flocks that have been impacted. We have heavy hearts for our fellow farmers. On our home front, I’m thankful to report that our flocks are well and we haven’t had any impact. But it remains a frightening time and I’m grateful for all the good wishes and words of support we’ve received. It buoys us through the hard times.
That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now. We’ll hope to see you at Ferndale Market in the spring days ahead!