Labor leader calls for rebuilding cattle herd


The Hagstrom Report

via Tri-Stae Livestock News (SD) - Jun 15, 2022


The U.S. cattle herd needs to be rebuilt in order to help all workers in the meat sector and avoid an environmental calamity in Brazil, a key U.S. labor leader said Monday.


As beef prices have risen, Americans have shifted to poultry, the least unionized of the meat industries, Dennis Olson, a senior research associate and policy analyst for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said at a conference sponsored by the Open Markets Institute and Farm Action.


Olson participated in a panel discussion after Open Markets and Farm Action released a report in which they graded the Biden administration’s Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and the Agriculture Department on their performance on competition issues.


Olson noted that about 71% of pork plants and 61% of beef plants are unionized while only about 31% of poultry processors are unionized. It is harder to organize poultry plants because they are in the South, he said.


“Poultry is our nemesis. It is dragging down labor standards across all three sectors,” Olson said. “We want ranchers to get a fair price for their cattle, we have to start rebuilding the herd in the United States.”


Olson noted that a farmer-labor alliance had helped President Franklin Roosevelt pass the New Deal, but he said that there are not enough farmers and laborers today to pass measures to change the food system.


Olson said that farm advocates should appeal to the climate movement by emphasizing the impact of increased Brazilian exports to the United States on destruction of the Brazilian rain forest...