A generation ago, the business of raising animals for food in America looked much like it had at the Founding - family farms, open and competitive markets, high standards, and a self sustaining national economy. Today, vast corporations rule almost every corner of the animal agriculture landscape, and these giants are increasingly controlled from foreign capitals. Some economists argue in favor of this new order of things, mainly claiming it is more “efficient.” But there’s also growing evidence that this top-down system can harm the wellbeing of animals, the farmer, and the eater. New America’s Markets and Resiliency Program hosted an open discussion of the pros and cons of America’s new industrial meat system, and of cutting edge efforts to reform the worst practices.
Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, discussed his organization’s brand new alliance with family farmers, which has the potential to entirely transform the politics of animal agriculture in America. Also, Christopher Leonard
, author of the new book The Meat Racket
, led a discussion of the little-known but fast-growing and highly disturbing practice in which local monopolists pit farmers against one another in “Tournaments.” Leonard's book, the first detailed look in a generation at concentration in animal agriculture, is fast on its way to becoming a best seller, thanks to recent boosts from The New York Times
, Bill Maher
, and NPR's Morning Edition
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