There are many points on this thread giving reasons for problems with production and processing of cattle, and maybe most are correct.
It is easy, and probably more satisfying to us, to blame government excessive regulation and over-reach of governance of everything touching food production as hurting producer prices for cattle. BUT don't we, some of us as much as consumers do, WANT everything to be super safe????
Sure, we can point to businesses which didn't last long processing 'local' beef. Was it over regulation, too few customers willing to pay the true costs, the 'big' outfits leaning on someone? Personally, my take is that it is probably most of the things we blame, to a greater or lesser degree. Do we realize the high costs of disposing of parts of animals not eaten by our 'choosy' US beef customers, even liver isn't a big seller, let alone sweet breads, tripe, and more that require specialized markets and may not fit on the scope of sales of a small processing plant.
Do we need government to decree every detail? Probably not. When SD processing plants have state inspection which is at least equal to, or better than federal requirements, WHY can't our beef processed in them be sold across state lines???? OTH, there really are people in every kind business, no matter how small, who will take short cuts, cheat, tip the scales in their own favor, and we all suffer! So we do need regulation, after all.
Do the 'big packers' REALLY have the time or interest to take the time and effort, payoff, whatever, to put small, local producers that obviously can't compete with the big ones, out of business? I doubt it!
But, I'm pretty sure that equipment and labor costs per animal would be on a prohibitive scale for really small, local based processors. When many people running small businesses of other types in our small towns right up through Rapid City size can't get anyone to fill their jobs existing today, some with good benefits included, and obviously easier work than processing cattle is, I just wonder if it really is pressure from those 'big' outfits keeping new plants from opening and being successful. Are we overlooking the huge costs of processing meat on a small scale being a huge block to small plant success????
Until we get more honest people running for public office for the right reasons, who will clean up what needs it, and all of us do our part, we are not going to get much different results than we are bearing the (rotten!) fruits of right now!
Maybe a good start would be to believe in honesty until facts show us otherwise! And when wrong is proven, take proper action!