A consolidated market leaves ranchers wondering what’s next

While consumers pay high beef prices at the grocery store, very little has trickled down to ranchers — in fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the gap between the retail price for beef and the price producers receive is the largest it's ever been. In interviews, eight ranchers in seven states agreed their profits have stagnated or even decreased, while the meatpacking companies — which buy the animals for slaughter, then package the meat to be sold at grocery stores — have benefited.

#AgAlerts: Forever chemicals; change in the calorie count of nuts; Walmart’s meatpacking; the Salton Sea and food stamps

In 2018, 3M agreed to pay Minnesota $850 million to settle a case alleging the manufacturer damaged natural resources and contaminated groundwater by disposing of the chemicals over decades. Studies have associated certain PFAS chemicals with increased risk of cancer and damage to organs such as the liver and thyroid. The suit alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that the chemicals persist in the environment and do not degrade, that they would inevitably accumulate and build up in humans and animals, and that it is a potential or confirm carcinogen.

Large animal feeding operations on the rise
Several states see shifts in animal production since 2011

The number of new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have increased across the U.S. over the past six years - bringing the total operations just under 20,000, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. From 2011 to 2017, the United States saw more than 1,400 new large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) established. That’s up 7.6 percent. Here's a look at the issue in maps and charts.