Tyson Foods Joins Cargill in Turning Their Backs on Farmers and Ranchers

Nother 20 years and we’ll be the Indians. They’ll be trying to stick us on the reservation just to get us out of the way.
— Augustus McRae, Lonesome Dove

By Jim Mundorf

I had been working on the article, Cargill, Bill Gates and PETA Partner Up to End Livestock Production,  off and on over the past couple weeks, reading all I could on Memphis Meats, their founders, and the investors that had been publicized and cheered in the National media. My conclusion was that Memphis Meats was started with the help of PETA, for the purpose of destroying livestock production by creating meat from livestock cells. They were now being handed money from some billionaire animal rights nuts. The one that didn’t fit of course was Cargill, but from the statements of the person in charge of the investment, Sonya Roberts, it seemed like she was a supporter or at least a sympathizer with PETAs cause rather than a representative of one of the largest beef processors in the world. So I left it at that, and published the article on Sunday Jan. 28. The next morning everything changed. Tyson Foods announced they were joining with Cargill and investing in Memphis Meats. The stakes had been drastically raised.

The PETA Partnership

PETA is a bunch of nut bags. Everyone knows that, but they aren’t just marching around naked, making fake videos, and throwing red paint on Colonel Sanders. They also fund and support two organizations that the FBI has labeled terrorists, the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. On their own website they call them heroes and compare the violent terrorist activities to that of the Underground Railroad and the French Resistance of WWII. 

Memphis Meats was founded by two men, Cardiologist Uma Valeti and Stem Cell Biologist Nicholas Genovese. In 2010 Genovese was given a 3 year grant or fellowship from PETA to study a way to create meat from Animal Cells so that meat could be produced without the need for livestock.

The fully funded Genovese then went to the Medical University of South Carolina to work in the lab of Vladimir Mironov. Mironov was supposed to be working on growing human organs from cells, but he was also being funded by PETA. The part of Mironov's lab, that PETA sent Genovese to, was dedicated to growing meat from animal cells. According to Nature.com Mironov seems to have lost his mind, was suspended, and sent for psychiatric evaluation. Genovese then had to find a new lab. Imagine that, a legit crazy person being funded by PETA. 

According to the St Louis Dispatch, Genovese then found a home in the Animal Science Department at the University of Missouri. A institution well known for making rational decisions, (joking.) The Missouri Farm Bureau found out that their local livestock school was now home to a PETA guy and was none to happy. When they questioned the University the school tried to set the local farmers' minds at ease by explaining that the guy they allowed to use their research facilities was not paid one red cent by the University, but was completely funded by PETA.  

While Genovese was at Mizzou the other Memphis Meats founder was at the Mayo Clinic trying to save human lives by growing muscle from cells. When he realized this was a possibility he decided, to hell with human lives, and that he needed to start saving cows. He caught wind of what Genovese was up to at Mizzou and they partnered up and started Memphis Meats.

Memphis Meats and PETA share the same vision of ending livestock production by creating meat from animal cells. That is no secret, it has been reported in all of the articles I read about Memphis Meats. The first words you read on their website are, "a world without slaughter." As a nonprofit I don't think PETA can invest in Memphis Meats, but they can donate. PETA has pledged to give $1 million dollars to the first lab meat company that actually produces a product that can be sold commercially, but now that may no longer be needed thanks to investments from agriculture companies. 

The Cargill Investment

According to Agfunder, in 2016 Cargill's protein division removed the word animal from its name and sold two large cattle feedlots in Texas. In April of 2017 Cargill sold its last two feedlots and exited the cattle feeding business. When asked why John Keating, president of Cargill’s  protein business operations and supply chain said, "Selling our two remaining feed yards aligns with our protein growth focus by allowing us to redeploy working capital away from cattle feeding operations to other investments." Four months later Cargill invested in Memphis Meats. 

Cargill announced their investment on their website. In the announcement Cargill's Brian Sikes said, "Our strategic alliance with Memphis Meats is an exciting way for Cargill to explore the potential in growing the cultured meats segment of the protein market." This is bullshit. There is no cultured meats market. "Cultured," or lab meat isn't meat and it doesn't exist yet. By funding Memphis Meats Cargill is not growing a market segment, they are trying to create one. Cargill is paying for the creation of a market with a company whose express, stated purpose is to end livestock production. 

At the time of the investment Sonya Roberts, head of growth ventures in the meat division at Cargill, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “For people who want a product from an animal welfare perspective, we want this to be there for them.” That statement is a direct slap in the face of everyone who raises livestock and eats meat. To say that the people who eat meat are not concerned with animal welfare shows how completely disconnected Cargill now is from their producers and consumers. It also shows how connected they have become to the people they are now investing in.  

Tyson Foods Takes the Lead

In 2013 PETA named Beyond Meat its company of the year. In 2016 Tyson Foods invested in Beyond Meat, purchasing a 5% stake, and in 2017 they increased that investment. Beyond Meat shares PETA and Memphis Meats vision of destroying the livestock industry. The way they are working to do this is by making veggie burgers, and other products that are supposed to look and taste like meat, but they are made from plants and vegetables. Their goal as stated on their website is, "Our mission is to create mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein."  The website goes on to spread lies about the livestock industry and encourages people to stop eating meat. On Tyson's website Justin Whitmore executive vice president of corporate strategy said, "This investment reinforces our focus on protein and enables us to support Beyond Meat’s efforts to produce new, leading edge products."

So here we are, February of 2018 and Tyson decides that investing in one company that wants to destroy agriculture is not enough. They need two,  not to be outdone by Cargill, last week Tyson announced their investment in Memphis Meats and took the lead in the race to turn their backs on the farmers and ranchers who have supplied them and created their very existence. When the investment was announced Tyson's CEO Tom Hayes put out a statement where he said, "This isn’t an “either or” scenario; it’s a “yes and” scenario." Bullshit! He can say what he wants, but to the people he is handing money to it is not an, "either or," or a "yes and," scenario." It is an end of livestock production scenario! That is their stated goal. That is how they are promoting their product, and that is what Tyson Foods is funding by investing in these companies. 

Dynamic Duo

According to the Provisioner Processor  four meat processors produce the vast majority of meat sold in the U.S. Tyson foods is number one and Cargill is number three. Together they can control the market. Now, as investors in Memphis Meats, they are partners. Memphis Meats has predicted that their lab meat won't be on shelves until 2021. Who knows how accurate that is, or if it will ever happen at all. In my opinion I don't think it will. I don't think they will ever create anything that compares to real beef in a laboratory. Now that Tyson and Cargill have partnered I don't know that, that matters anymore. If this lab meat does become available and Tyson and Cargill see it as a more profitable product what's to stop them from pushing actual meat out of the marketplace?

There's a fight coming... coming today. 

I am not a Journalist. I am the 5th generation of my family to work on the farm. Below is a photograph of my Grandfather Glenn Barr. He is standing on a cattle tub helping us work cattle when he was around 90 years old. He was not there for a paycheck, or because we needed his help. He was there, because that is where he belonged. This photo hangs above my workbench as a goal, of where I want to be when I am 90. I want to be in a cattle pasture with my grandchildren working cattle. This goal is not unique. It is shared by thousands of other people in this country who work hard to help feed the world. People who were given a love for the land and the animals from the generations before them. They don't have seed funding rounds, they don't beg for investments from billionaires. They simply go to work. Generation after generation, they go to work because it is good, and it is right, and it is what they were put on this earth to do. 

Glenn Barr 1912-2006

Glenn Barr 1912-2006

I started this website as kind of an experiment. I simply wanted to put the perspective of someone who grew up in agriculture out there to see if anyone cared. I have found that many do. The more I look into this issue the more pissed off I get. There are very powerful people who want to help destroy what it has taken generations to build. Now, I don't just want to give my perspective. I want to fight. I want to fight the people who are looking to put an end to producing livestock for meat, and I want to fight the people who are funding them. I don't know how to do it, but I feel like these articles are a good start. I know there are a lot of good people working at and with Tyson and Cargill. People whose Grandpa's looked a lot like mine. People who wanted to work there so that they could stay connected to Agriculture. Those people need to know what their companies and partners are funding. I'm going to try to tell them. My fight starts today.

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Jim Mundorf- Owns the Drover House and Branding Ring. He also works on his families farm and cattle ranch in Iowa