Cattle Consumption Goes Down, Leather Prices Go Up

Breaking news: It should come as no surprise to Clearly Veg readers that supply and demand drastically affect the agriculture industry, but one that doesn't seem to get much attention is the leather market. Bloomberg's recent article, "Your Salad Lunches Are Killing American Leather" are a testament to the frailty of the long-standing system:

Leather has always been a byproduct of the meat industry, and as Americans? beef consumption grew over the 20th century, the leather industry grew with it. The past three decades, though, have seen a decline of about 28 percent in Americans? appetite for beef, and the supply of hides has dwindled accordingly. At the same time, drought in the Midwest has pushed up feed prices. The result is that America has fewer and more expensive cows.

The article's author, James Tarmy, introduces the reader to Lisa Howlett, owner of Auburn Leather, a 152 year-old company. Most of Tarmy's narrative revolves around Auburn Leather's current dliemmas - a leather shortage inspired by a cultural shift. While this is certainly bad news for Howlett, who has been forced to ensure that resources are used as efficiently as possible, something that was essentially unheard of in the company's history, it continues a dialogue that Americans are having with long-standing American industries like agriculture, given a series of environmental and moral dilemmas that impose dramatic, fast-acting restrictions. 

This isn't the sort of breaking news that insists the veg community give business owners like Howlett a pat on the back for her efforts, noting that her business exists because, "those who make leather don?t want to be the bad you know where it [leather] would be if it wasn?t on my feet? In a landfill." This is the sort of breaking news that serves to let the veg community know that we vote with our dollars day-in and day-out, and that this kind of dent in an animal product industry that has been around for thousands of year is proof-positive of a mission that can succeed and perhaps even eventually end animal suffering.

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Ryan is a practicing vegetarian that writes and trains/teaches grappling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & wrestling) full-time. Ryan's goal is to educate readers about the political and environmental state of the world, and how that long-standing model of living affects the world around us. Ryan especially likes digging into what we eat, how we get said food, and the aftermath of this very large and political process.

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