EATS ACT TAKES AWAY OPPORTUNITIES
I am a meat wholesaler, buying cattle and hogs from PA farmers (our first farm partners were in Centre County!). It’s not a contentious fact that the U.S. meat system is highly concentrated; four companies control 85% of the beef and 66% of the pork supply. Concentration means there are few buyers, which means low prices and few options for farmers.
The “Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act” (EATS Act) is a federal bill introduced in response to California’s Proposition 12 and Massachusetts’ Question 3, which both say that any producer wishing to sell pork, chicken or veal into California or Massachusetts must meet basic animal welfare requirements. If EATS were to pass, both these laws and others like it would be eliminated. I’d like to point out a major win that EATS would destroy, not just for animals, but for the farmers and smaller meat wholesalers, such as myself. There are so few opportunities to beat one of the big packers at the meat game, and Prop 12 and Question 3 create market demand for smaller, more nimble meat companies to fill. While we have fewer resources, we are scrappier and faster, we’re hungrier and these higher-welfare markets might just provide a meal for a few of us. So, I hope Congress rejects the EATS Act, which would take away a critical opportunity for us small guys to rise to the occasion and further cement consolidation of our food system, ultimately hurting animals, farmers and businesses like mine.