Thank you for your support this year. It is your support that makes it possible for us to provide clean, healthy, nutritious, pasture-raised meats and eggs for you. Now, more than ever, it is important that small local farms have the support of the consumers around them. We have been hearing a lot in the news about the credit crisis and the government’s $700 billion dollar bailout.
What we have not been hearing much about is the poultry industry crisis. Pilgrim’s Pride, the country’s largest chicken producer, is on the verge of bankruptcy. They were not able to meet their financial obligations at the end of September and their lending institution gave them a 30 day grace period. Their stock has dropped to less than $3.00 a share from a high of $40 a share in July of 2007.
The other big poultry producers have also been experiencing huge losses due to the high grain prices and their stocks have been dropping as well. Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson made appeals to the government to ease the ethanol production mandates for this year to reduce the demand and the cost for corn. The appeals were rejected. The government is more interested in energy production and bailing out Wall Street than in domestic food production!
The supply of cheap imported chicken and a reduced demand and oversupply of chickens has prevented the poultry industry from being able to raise their prices when grain prices went up dramatically this year. Chicken prices should be much higher in the grocery stores than what they are. With the price of conventional grain where it is, the price of conventional chicken should be about the same as what organic chicken was a year ago.
For years I have observed one poultry company buying up another. Then another company would buy up that one. With each buy out, the smaller company was merged to make a bigger poultry company. It was a dog eat dog world. I wondered what would happen when the biggest dog (poultry company) died and there was no one to take its place. We are about to see that happen.
With each year, we are losing more and more of our food independence and have to rely more and more on other countries to feed us. Along with that dependence on other countries for our cheap food is an increased health risk because of the reduced food regulation in other countries. The past two years has seen a huge increase in the problem of food poisonings from Salmonella in tomatoes and other vegetables to melamine in Chinese milk and pet food products. For years, the big factory farm model has been promoted as the best food production method. The big factory farm model is failing as we thought it would. And we see how very foolish it is for us to rely on other countries to provide our food for us. It is important now more than ever to encourage the development of smaller local farms and know where your food comes from.