Year 4, Month 4, Day 7: You Get No Bread With One Meat Ball

WICHITA, Kan. — Years of drought are reshaping the U.S. beef industry with feedlots and a major meatpacking plant closing because there are too few cattle left in the United States to support them.

Some feedlots in the nation’s major cattle-producing states have already been dismantled, and others are sitting empty. Operators say they don’t expect a recovery anytime soon, with high feed prices, much of the country still in drought and a long time needed to rebuild herds.

The closures are the latest ripple in the shockwave the drought sent through rural communities. Most cattle in the U.S. are sent to feedlots for final fattening before slaughter. The dwindling number of animals also is hurting meatpackers, with their much larger workforces. For consumers, the impact will be felt in grocery and restaurant bills as a smaller meat supply means higher prices.

Cattle numbers have been falling for years as the price of corn used to feed animals in feedlots skyrocketed. The drought accelerated the process, but many feedlots were able to survive at first because ranchers whose pastures dried up weaned calves early and sent breeding cows to be fattened for slaughter.

Yum. Sent February 25:

Even as the drought hammering the world’s most productive farmland goes into its second year, the anti-science conservatives in American politics and media are still stuck in full-denial mode: there is no drought, and if there is, it’s not caused by climate change, which isn’t happening; even if the climate is changing, it’s not caused by humans, and even if it is, it’s too expensive to do anything about it anyway. Does your head hurt? Mine does.

It’s not just farm states that are waking up to the consequences of an accelerating greenhouse effect. Everywhere across the nation and the world people are realizing that a transformed climate is going to wreak havoc on our food supply, with ripple effects that will radically alter the lives of everyone on the planet.

Eventually, of course, the denialists will have to eat their words. There won’t be anything else left to eat.

Warren Senders

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