Where’s the beef?

This isn’t one of my normal word metric posts, so feel free to move on if that’s what you’re looking for. Tomorrow is my flex day and if I make any writing progress I’ll probably post about it.

Today, I have an independent thought to share with everyone. Might be a rant, but we’ll all find out together.

In America, COVID-19 is interfering with the food chain. We have dairymen pouring milk on the ground, produce going to landfills, and more. Some folks have tried to remedy this by donating to shelters, or allowing people to harvest what the restaurants would normally buy. Nothing’s perfect, but anything is better than total waste.

I’m not so sure a tutorial about how to make ricotta or something would help use some of that raw milk, but certain animals will eat it, too.

The one that frosts me is that we’re about to have shortages of meat because this damned virus is disrupting the operation of the slaughterhouses and such. I totally understand that it’s not the employees fault, and there will be some bobbles along the way.

This isn’t about suffering animals, and I won’t be weighing in on that. My concern is the damned waste that’s going on because they’re in the process of euthanizing perfectly good animals. These animals go to the dump.

I did some research and understand their problems. It takes about 45 days to get a chicken ready for market. It’s like an assembly line, and you have to harvest at the end or the next generation clogs everything up.

Eventually, I assume someone will stop producing at the lower level to alleviate this to a degree. We’re all doing the best we can, and nothing is going to be perfect.

I’m just going to note that even an older chicken makes good soup, and they can grind it into multiple products. Maybe some donations here will prevent some of them from just going to the landfill. (Also, pigs will eat them, and pet food is a possibility.)

When it comes to pigs and cattle, that’s where I have the biggest issue. If you keep an animal alive, it doesn’t need refrigeration. Both of these animals can be pastured. Their use is delayed, but they aren’t completely wasted.

I get that private pasture isn’t readily available, but we do have millions of acres of federal land. I’m not talking about taking away anyone’s grazing rights, but why couldn’t we issue some temporary allotments for putting these animals outside for a while. Sure, you might have to fence in the pigs, but that can’t be impossible. Lots of potential shepherds out of work right now, too.

The BLM and Forest Service might take a brief hit, but we’re talking about a couple of months. Not decades of overgrazing. There is plenty of land outside the allotments people are not depending upon for a living.

Aside from that, any sexually capable animals might have value to someone who wants to increase the size of their herd. (Not steers and such, I get that.)

Additionally, I can’t be the only person left in America who knows how to dispatch a large animal and is capable of butchering it myself. Give me one of those steers from the feedlot awaiting a trip to the slaughterhouse. You buy the paper and tape and I’ll share it with you.

I’m upset that we’re all going to have shortages, at the same time animals are being disposed of. I really hate waste. The shortages are inevitable. Sick workers can’t get the job done and I understand that. However, an animal can still be eaten after it’s due date as long as you keep it alive.

BLM and Natural Forest will heal, and a few months aren’t going to hurt anything. It’s not like I’m asking to put livestock out there for many years. After we get beyond this, remove the animals and leave the land to do its thing.

I just hate for the answer to, “Where’s the beef?” to become, “In the trench behind the barn.”

36 Comments

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36 responses to “Where’s the beef?

  1. Good points. I had a feeling they’d be doing that. You’re right that they should do something to reduce the waste and not kill the animals needlessly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ugh. I didn’t realize that they were killing the animals and tossing them away. I know farming is a business now, and that farmers need to make a profit (which isn’t easy), but that seems so disrespectful of the animals. This is just sad.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This entire virus crap has disrupted too many lives (and now it’s affecting the animals). I’m with you. Put them out to pasture. It’s been a while, but we once raised and slaughtered our own pigs. But too many people nowadays don’t know how to “live off the land” so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Having had a farm, I can certainly agree with your angst. If you look at the price of a cow to the farmer and then factor how much it would take to keep feeding it for a couple of months the extra feed cost is small potatoes. Of course, who gets reimbursed when the crops fail, and the animals don’t go to market? I think if we look hard enough, we’ll find the economics are tilted toward the landfill. You would think someone would figure this crap out. Sad subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you, Craig. The way this virus is being dealt with in the food chain is actually offensive. There are millions of unemployed people who need food and yet we are throwing it away and pouring milk down the drains. In South Africa, millions of people who are unable to work because of lock down are going hungry. Food riots have already started and looting of shops, schools and churches. This is going to get worse and, while understandable if people are starving, it is scary. The way our capitalistic societies are dealing with the fallout from this virus is a tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t blame them for not being perfect. Some are asking questions that are absurd. They are akin to why didn’t you stop this hurricane from forming, only about the virus. We can’t prevent all the waste, but we should try to minimize it. We can’t prevent all the suffering, but we should try to minimize it. I know it takes big money, but live cattle can be shipped to South Africa, too, if all we’re going to do is kill them and bury them. One wealthy philanthropist could make that happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I, too, hate waste. I hope this post gets shared far and wide until the people who can affect these changes actually do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with you, Craig. I hate waste. The easy way out is what is being looked at. There is no thought at all to what is being done. And who suffers? The farmer, the rancher, the consumer, the elderly. With so many people hungry a better solution needs to be be in place.

    My trip to the store this past weekend had all meat rationed. So many things are limited. I still can’t buy yeast and I used to make bread quite frequently. I don’t know how to butcher anything, but I do know how to pick vegetables.

    Excellent post. Sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No easy answers for this one, I don’t think. Farmers can’t afford to feed animals they can’t sell. With Smithfield and Tyson being forced to close their processing facilities due to hundreds of employees being sick, options are limited. Free range might be a solution for some, but probably not for all, and it brings its own set of problems.

    Like so many aspects of this pandemic, there don’t seem to be any good solutions. It’s more a question of which ones are actually doable and will hurt the least number of people. I would say that this particular aspect is the thing I’m hating the most about the entire situation, except that the latest predictions of 100,000+ people dying here in the U. S., and countless more across the world, has me even more unhappy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I figure it isn’t a solution for all, but some free BLM foraging might hold the livestock over until they can be processed. Even if an amateur butcher processes an animal for friends and family, he might only recover 80% of what the pros would. Still, it isn’t a complete waste. It’s an 80% success.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anything would help, and with so many people in the world hungry, it seems a terrible waste, as you say. There should be a workable answer. Of course, in a perfect world, these plants would open back up very, very soon, people would get back to work, and the process would pick up again rapidly. But then, we know we are a long way from perfection in this world. Still, I’m praying for these issues to get sorted sooner rather than later, and for some kind of feasible solution to be implemented in the meantime.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I didn’t realize this was happening and animals were going to landfills. Like you, I hate waste….especially now. This virus has affected so many avenues of life. The trickle down is mind boggling.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You make some great points here, Craig, and offer viable solutions. It seems that common sense has taken a permanent vacation in this country. I too hate to see waste when so many in America are starving. It’s all a big huge CF! And I don’t see anyone capable of leading us in a direction of straightening it out. This is not a political statement. In fact, it’s the opposite. I am as anti-political as it can get. Thank you for sharing! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re so right. American agriculture is one of many messed-up industries that have been exposed by this pandemic. Small farmers are really across a barrel. Many of them have binding contracts that are not easy to get out of. They have loans to pay, and no way to do so unless they can sell their animals.

    The subtext that comes to me, specifically for the plant workers, is how the company management lied or concealed when the workers got sick. Several small towns have clusters of illness that are connected to their slaughterhouses. There needs to be some accountability for that.

    I hope before everyone gets back to “normal” that we can make some real changes in how food is produced in America.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Accountability can always come later. We have immediate needs that should be addressed. This is not the time to worry about bottom lines. We should be distributing the available food and not disposing of it because it isn’t profitable. If it’s worth throwing away, it’s worth letting someone have for free.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Amen, brother! I’ve been making this very complaint at my house, though no one listens anymore. There are plenty of FFA and 4-H kids that raise these animals for a school project, and at the end, sometimes they are sold at the fair, and sometimes they are taken to a private butcher. In my neck of the woods, the largest supermarket chain is buying all the excess and donating it to homeless shelters. But seeing the farmers euthanize those pigs on the news then talk about the waste burns me, too, because you know damn well their own families’ freezers are full — meaning they do know how to butcher them properly, but would rather go public and say they have no other choice. I’ve been saying for days (or more) that a few phone calls and emails would have most likely garnished a group of volunteers to transport the animals, feed the hungry, and perhaps even recouped at least some of the money to the farmers. I would have loved to been assigned that job, because I’m confident there is a better solution. But then again, no one asked me. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  13. D.L. Finn, Author

    This is depressing and why we buy from our local rancher. It wouldnt hurt to have some grazing in the forest and cut down on fires, either. I know its a business, but it doesn’t make it right.

    Liked by 1 person

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