In industrialized meat production you run head long
into a lot of problems.
The pork producer, the meat packer and the
retail seller are all at odds.
Each wants to maximize profit and
Each is willing to externalize costs.
negotiation will be coercive and unfavorable if any of these three branches of
industry have been monopolized.
Pork packing firms are independent
After the Panic of 1873, pork packing becomes a
The packers in St. Louis, Louisville and Cincinnati
are buying and killing.
By the time the bacon is put on the market
Philip Danforth Armour has flooded the market.
"I come from a long line of pig butchers and meat-packers: Armour.
My not-too-distant relatives were responsible for such ingenious
inventions as the refrigerated train car and the "kill floor," and ultimately
the meat-oriented status of the modern American diet.
Armour owned a
business which bought hogs from local farmers for delivery to slaughterers and
The demands of
the hungry Union armies during the
Civil War created a
boom in pork and the Armour brothers prospered - and profiteered.
business move that might land you in jail Philip took advantage of artificially
swollen food prices toward the end of
sold futures to pork
barrels he did not possess for delivery
in the spring of
1865 when, he
gambled, the War would be ending and
prices would have fallen.
gamble paid off, and
netted a two million profit
at the expense of disgruntled traders and government merchants." - Jeffrey
1869 Two years after the Armour
packing house is built in Chicago six thousand hogs are being butchered a
Armour originates a
number of assembly line slaughtering techniques,
the use of waste
products and the sale of canned
Armour packing houses in Kansas City, Omaha and
Packers in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Louisville, go
"Employees worked as much
as 18 hours a day in unsanitary conditions.
There always seemed to
be another new young man available and willing to step in and take the hammer,
knife or saw whenever an employee would lose a finger, hand, eye - or stomach
for the job.
The Armours were ruthless competitors; they would open a
retail outlet in every city and flood the market with their products, selling
them at such ridiculously low prices the local butchers and outlets could not
Townsfolk took to Armour meat with the intensity of
Once the local
competition was forced to close their doors and leave Armour would then raise
prices and control availability through pricing.
Armour, using this
technique, drove thousands of
smaller operators who had been in the butchery business for years into
Monopolistic business practices caused a tumult when US
soldiers in the Spanish-American War
died from eating meat canned by Armour.
Armour and his competitors
permission of sawdust, rats, animal feces, and portions of animals heretofore
considered inedible being used in the production of "meat" products eventually
got the attention of Congress.
The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is enacted to
protect the public from the unscrupulous business practices of the Armours and
its enactment, the Armours were indicted
for violations of the Sherman Act based on testimony they gave before
Congress in which they revealed the very incriminating details of their
A brilliant, silver-tongued
lawyer of the day retained by the Armours argued that they should be able
to invoke -- retroactively -- their Fifth Amendment right not to implicate
themselves, and thus prevent the introduction at trial of their own previous
damning testimony before Congress, and prevent the introduction of all the
evidence procured as a result of that testimony.
On the eve of trial,
after a jury had been empaneled, a judge accepted the lawyer's argument and
dismissed the case against the Armours.
The newspapers of the day
proclaimed derisively that the Armours' lawyer had given them an 'immunity bath'." -
Jeffrey Armour Nelson
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