Are meats trading below full 'society cost'?

Discussion in 'Economics' started by scriabinop23, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. I just had a look at this article, and it occurred to me ... Are we actually paying the true, fully accounted for, cost of meat? ie When we eat beef, we are changing the demand fundamentals of the grain side considerably. Somewhere I read 'it takes 20 kilos or more of grain to produce 1 kilo of meat.'

    Now that this is occurring on a worldwide scale, causing quite a massive problem with grain supply, is meat perhaps way too cheap?

    What is the best way to make meat eaters pay their fair share, in other words, make them pay for the increased cost in the underlying rest of the grains that everyone else ultimately bears the brunt for?

    Tax meats everywhere?

    I am not a vegetarian, although I should probably become one. But just like gasoline (I don't feel like I'm owed $1.00 gasoline), it occurs to me its not my god given right to eat meat, when most of the world can subsist on much less 'luxurious' (and more humane) plants alone.


    1) what would grains cost right now if chinese meat consumption weren't matching the rest of the developed world?

    2) how much more demand will they have?

    3) whats the best way to get ag supplies back? do we really have enough farmland? Or are we making ourselves unnecessarily susceptible to famine based on our want of meat?

    4) will a tax on meat be the best way of making those who demand meat pay their fair share for it in the form of broadbased increases in grain costs? Or are market prices on meat enough of a deterrent?

    Anyone have a handle on this?

    Summarized quickly:

    People and livestock are consuming more grain than ever, draining world inventories and increasing the likelihood of shortages, Doyle said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Global grain stockpiles fell to about 53 days of supply last year, the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1960, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    ``There is a dietary shift occurring in China today, particularly amongst the young,'' Hugh Grant, chief executive officer of Monsanto Co., the world's biggest seed producer, said in a Feb. 6 interview. ``As protein consumption increases, as they move from fish to chicken, chicken to pork, and pork to beef, the demand for commodities increases almost by an order of magnitude.''
  2. loik


    Who says I can`t eat meat? If some people can live without, so what?

    Let the market decide the price.

    If the world, hypothetically, can feed 8 billion, and then the population increases to 9 billion, do you divide the food equally so everyone gets 88.88% of their nutritional needs?
  3. All very worthwhile questions to be asked, but lets assume meat consumption reduces grain quantities by 20x. If we can hypothetically feed 8B grains, then we can only feed 200M if we use all of those grains to feed meat (and we become meat only). The balance is obviously somewhere in between.

    But in this day and age, with record crop production, to read the word famine (as a broad issue) is absolutely concerning, and makes me question if our meat consumption habits are not properly accounted for.

    If you operate on the assumption that we must centrally plan to make sure everyone has at least the minimum (some grain, to survive), then you are already agreeing that the mark ets alone may not be fair determiners of true cost. (since a true free market has no welfare assumption built in)

    I guess more precisely stated, what do you guys figure the marginal cost difference for many grains in a world with meat consumption 10%, 20%, 30% more and less is? So is it fair to make the poorest pay the price for the consumption habits of the rich?

    Or a final way of putting it: would you rather have beef today, and starve to death tommorow? This is obviously a more obvious issue for the Chinese and Indian populations, but with export markets without protectionist tariffs, it impacts all of us considerably whether we like it or not.
  4. Here's a recent NY Times article that deals with the issue (but doesn't focus on increasing grain costs).

    Here's a reference to calorie production efficiency:

    Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.
  5. loik


    Why should we fuck like rabbits, and not let nature take care of the rest?
  6. Mvic


  7. Well said, OP needs to Fuck Off
  8. If you are worried about starving people, start with biofuels (biofools) first.

    Biofuels: more government interference with the free market, and causing more destruction with negative gains. Just what I suspected.

    Slash and burn the rain forests to make room for a crop of corn, increase grain prices, and not decrease CO2 which is supposed to be the whole point.

    TIME: THE TROUBLE WITH BIOFUELS 2-14-08,8599,1713431,00.html

    Why can't people and government let nature and the free market let it do its job?
  9. yep agreed, absolutely.
  10. Fuck liberal arts, what schools really need to teach is basic economics.
    #10     Feb 21, 2008