In this podcast, AAI President Diana Moss sits down with two leaders in the independent sector to discuss the fallout from decades of massive consolidation and rising concentration in beef packing. Her guests, Mike Callicrate and Patrick Robinette, run innovative, independent business operations in two different parts of the US. They discuss the state of competition in U.S. beef packing, which is dominated by four packing firms that control over 80% of the market. Next, they turn to problems of market access for smaller ranchers and processors and deceptive labeling that deprives consumers of informed choices. The conversation reveals that an industrial food system with little competition packs significant inefficiency and susceptibility to shocks like COVID-19. On the other hand, smaller operations provide needed competition and resiliency in the beef supply. Moss, Callicrate, and Robinette close with the importance of stronger antitrust enforcement in the beef packing sector and USDA initiatives that promote competition, price transparency, and the importance of alternative supply systems.
Mike Callicrate is a farmer-rancher, business entrepreneur and family farm advocate. Mike formed Ranch Foods Direct in 2000, a branded beef company and retail and online food store in Colorado Springs. His company also operates a regional food hub, helping to collect and distribute locally produced food.
Patrick Robinette’s family has raised high quality, grass-fed cattle for years in North Carolina. In 2012 they formed Micro Summit Processors, with a focus on cattle harvesting and processing. Patrick’s business responds to consumers demand for food transparency.