Up until recently, it’s worked out fairly well for them. Prior to the pandemic, U.S. production of pork and beef had grown every year, respectively, since 2014 and 2015 to satisfy a rising global taste for meat. But in August 2019, a fire at a cattle-slaughtering plant in Holcomb, Kansas, shocked the market: cattle prices plummeted while beef prices soared. That dynamic was even more pronounced in 2020 when lockdowns forced by the Covid-19 outbreaks prompted limited meat shortages — such as a lack of burgers at Wendy’s. With thousands of plant workers sickened, food supplies slowed into the restaurant and retail channels and the meat giants faced criticism for not protecting workers. With prices rising, the farmers who raise cattle, hogs and chickens have complained about rising inequities in the market — that while consumers are paying more for meat, the farmers are not sharing the profits.