Jon Marvel and his campaign to drive ranchers off of public lands may appear to their biggest threat for the future. But ultimately economics has driven the transformation of the West more than environmental initiatives.
The latest threat to western cattle ranches is a Brazilian company’s proposed $1.1 billion buyout of Smithfield Beef Group Inc. and National Beef Packing Co. Wyoming cattlemen are trying to stop the buyout because they see it as a threat to the prices they get for their beef on the hoof.
The consolidation of the meat packing industry has long been considered a threat to Idaho ranchers. The closing of the Tyson Foods plant just outside of Boise recently took away a key market for many area ranchers.
The potential that a foreign company might control their primary market sends chills down the spines of many Wyoming ranchers. Others say it could open foreign markets.
Certainly with the dollar so weak the potential for exporting beef is growing. But western cattle are so far away from major markets that without premiums, such as the Alderspring Grass Fed organic beef marketed from Salmon or the densely marbled wagyu beef, they need all the markets they can get.