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Why Are Some Ranchers Now Selling More Beef Directly To Consumers? It’s the Pandemic.

The economic upheaval caused by COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in the meat processing system, which has been dominated by four large companies.

Around the end of March, Chris Swenson thought he had a problem with his Web site.

Swenson is the head of Swenson ranches, a cattle operation in Elgin and Stamford that’s been in his family since 1882. It was started by his great-great-grandfather Svante Magnus Swenson, Texas’ first immigrant from Sweden.

These days, direct-to-consumer sales are part of the business. Once a week, Chris updates what’s for sale on the web site.

“You know, I’ll list here’s 10 sirloin steaks available, 50 pounds of hamburger, whatever,” he said.

One evening, as he was punching in his latest inventory, he noticed something was wrong. Each time he updated the site with a new item, the one he’d entered just before would go back to zero.

“And I’d say ‘Oh my gosh, I must not have updated [the site]. I must’ve hit the wrong button.’ I mean I’m not a wiz at this internet stuff,” he said.

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