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Don’t be fooled by ‘engulf-and-devour syndrome’ 

The destruction of independent ranchers by a hyper-consolidated, monopolized meatpacking industry both is and is not “a partisan issue� (“What’s the beef?,� Mar. 17-24) — likewise the destruction of family farms, small businesses, and independent media outlets by the same engulf-and-devour syndrome that started eating this country 25 years ago.

The historical record is clear: The gutting of anti-trust laws that has made this possible did not just happen, like a tornado or a flash flood. The cattlemen were sold down the river by the Reagan administration, which stepped back and permitted four companies to come to dominate the industry to the point that their present-day 84 percent share allows them to fix prices and keep them as low as they want, sticking it to the fast-disappearing independent ranchers.

Kudos to the SLO County Cattlemen’s Association for standing up and protesting their fate and learning a crucial political lesson: When you hear politicians promoting “family values,� you need to make sure their values are not those of the Corleone family.

 

Andrew Christie

Los Osos

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