Brittani Hawkins - DCHS AP English Language

Brittani Hawkins
AP English Language – 4th
Greenley, Colorado is a
modern-day factory town
where cattle are the main
units of production.
Fast food hamburgers come from
factory towns like Greenley.
Industrialization of cattleraising and meatpacking has
changed rapidly over the past
two decades and altered how
beef is produced.
Cattle are kept in feedlots
and are fed grain to gain
weight rapidly for three
months before they are sent
to the slaughterhouses.
During the Depression,
Warren Monfort bought cheap
grain to feed his cattle and
soon became one of the
nation’s first large-scale cattle
 He bought cheap corn, sugar
beets, and alfalfa.
 He started his business in the
1930s with eighteen head of
cattle, by late 1950s he had about
twenty thousand.
The grain-fed beef did not
have to be aged for weeks like
grass-fed beef.
American grain surpluses
provided inexpensive food for
livestock and made cattlefeeding a standard practice in
the beef industry.
Go West
Meatpacking industries were most
often found in large urban areas
The Beef Trust was born in Chicago, the
meatpacking capital of the world.
Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in
1906 about the meatpacking industry
in Chicago and its brutal conditions.
Iowa Beef Producers (IBP)
revolutionized the beef industry by
shipping smaller cuts, vacuum-sealed
and plastic wrapped beef
Severe back/shoulder injuries, lacerations,
amputations, exposure to dangerous
chemicals, workplace accidents (man fell into
a vat and became lard)
This allowed supermarkets to fire skilled,
unionized butchers.
IBP became involved with organized
crime and was marked as an example
of how mainstream corporations
could be infiltrated by the mob.
IBP’s domination of the meatpacking
market left old-line Chicago
meatpackers one choice: go west or
go out of business
The west meant cheap labor and one by one
the meat packers closed in Chicago and
moved west.
Bags of Money
In 1979, union workers in Greenley
went on strike and, when let back into
the plant, disobeyed and sabotaged
the company. Greenley was closed
and its workers fired.
ConAgra conducted a friendly
takeover of IBP when Excel – the
second largest beef processor –
acquired Spencer Beef – the third
largest beef processor.
The Reagan administration opposed antitrust
laws that would stop the giant meatpackers
from joining.
ConAgra – the biggest meatpacker in
the world – sells its products under
the names:
Hunt’s, Armour, La Choy, Country Pride, Swiss
Miss, Orville Redenbacker’s, Reddi-Whip,
Taste O’Sea, Knott’s Berry Farm, Hebrew
Natonal, and Healthy Choice
ConAgra’s Chief Executive Charles
Harper gave every general manager a
“bag of money” and expected them to
make a profit by the end of the year.
This caused some managers to break
the law such as:
1989 – ConAgra was found guilty in federal
court of having systematically cheated chicken
growers in Alabama – forced to pay $17.2
million in damage for the fraud
1995 – ConAgra payed $13.6 million to settle a
class-action lawsuit that accused the company
of having conspired with seven other firms to fix
prices in catfish industry
1997 – ConAgra paid $8.3 million in fines and
pleaded guilty in federal court to charges
involving wire fraud, the misgrading of crops,
and the addition of water to grain.
The New Industrial Migrants
Most of the employees in the Greenley
plant and other ConAgra plants are
migrant workers from Mexico, Central
America, and Southeast Asia.
Recent immigrants work for lower
wagers and are less likely to join
An estimated quarter of workers in Iowa and
Nebraska are illegal immigrants.
These workers often move from plant to
plant, giving the plants high turnover
ConAgra, the largest private employer
in Nebraska, wanted tax breaks from
the newly elected governor or they
threatened to move out of Omaha.
Despite the financial benefits IBP and
ConAgra received, IBP moved
headquarters from Nebraska to South
“They [corporate tax-break beneficiaries] take
whatever you give them and then, if there’s a
better offer, leave you hanging and move on to
the next best deal.” – Don Weseley, Nebraska
state senator.
The Sweet Smell
Towns where meatpacking facilities
moved always had increased rates of
drug deals, poverty, crime and their own
rural ghettos.
Lexington, Nebraska , after the plant
moved in, had the highest crime rate in
Medicaid cases doubled, major distribution center
for illegal drugs, gangs appeared and drive-bys
Lexington's population was over 50
percent Latino.
IBP violated the Clean Air Act in
Dakota City because it had nearly a
ton of hydrogen sulfide rising from
slaughterhouse wastewater lagoons.
IBP agreed to cover these lagoons and
is working on covering the lagoons in
IBP held a public forum in a junior high
school in Lexington to answer to
public’s questions and let them know
that the meatpacking plant would not
foul the air of the town and that the
lagoons would have a “sweet” smell,
not objectionable.

similar documents