The Birth of the Big American Meat Industry

Due to the large grazing areas of these regions, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand the countries were suitable for the development of ranching. Beef exports before the turn of the century were limited by transportation underdevelopment, until new methods of shipping equipped with cooling devices appeared during the second half of the nineteenth century. This created a new possibility for trade for the key beef producing countries. The United States’ emphasis on agrarianism during this time is attributed to the historical success of national economic development, thus influencing the structure of political institutions and the substance. The rising population of the United States during this time fueled the industry’s growth to satisfy the growing local demand.

Toward the end of the first food regime, the federal legislation created the land grant university system and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to improve productivity through applying scientific and technical skills to farming. During this time of nationalist economic development, the United States employed substantial barriers to free trade, allowing cattle raising and beefpacking to provide the rapidly growing demand and the working class. After the Second World War the expansion of these new agricultural technologies led to an increase in production and in tradability of beef through improved transportation methods, without having any substantial increase in international trade. Instead, internal specialization continued to evolve as large-scale mechanization and agrotechnology contributed to rapid increases in cereal yields.

This was a turning point in beef production, as livestock became a key consumer of these grain surpluses. It led to the emergence of the modern-day feedlot system, which serves as a deposit for the surplus of corn and soybeans as feed for cattle. In the feedlot system all animals began eating grains for the first time, speeding up their natural growth cycles, and the production of beef.


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