Press "Enter" to skip to content

CAFO-Mania Doesn’t Make Burgers Cheaper

Todd Epp notes the irony that, even as the state bribes South Dakota counties to ignore environmental concerns and turn South Dakota into one giant factory feedlot, hamburgers cost more to make in South Dakota than in almost everywhere else in the country:

South Dakota sits in the middle of beef country.

Yet, with cattle feedlots East River and cattle ranches West River, making a homemade hamburger in South Dakota costs the fourth most in the nation at $2.66 cents.

…The five cheapest states are: Arizona ($2.16), Maryland ($2.18), Delaware ($2.18), Pennsylvania ($2.21), and Idaho ($2.23).

The five most expensive states are: Hawaii ($2.75), Minnesota ($2.74), Alaska ($2.71), South Dakota ($2.66), and Ohio ($2.60) [Todd Epp, “A Homemade Burger in South Dakota Will Cost You More Than Most Places,” KELO Radio, 2019.07.05].

Graphic from Emily Jones, "This Is How Much a Hamburger Costs in Your State," Simple Thrifty Living, 2019.07.02.
Graphic from Emily Jones, “This Is How Much a Hamburger Costs in Your State,” Simple Thrifty Living, 2019.07.02.

The folks who compiled these data priced ground beef and other groceries at Walmarts in each state, so local production costs may well be washed out in the vast corporate production chain.

But evidently, more CAFOs don’t bring cheaper burgers—dang, there’s one more thing I probably can’t say in Davison County….


  1. mike from iowa 2019-07-07 15:21

    If my math is correct, each beef passing through NBP cost around 500k, one green card and lord knows what else.

  2. Porter Lansing 2019-07-07 17:45

    The article points out, “It isn’t just the cost of the burger. There’s the cost of condiments, pickles, bun, ketchup, mustard, onions, etc. to also consider.” But, to cost a burger (Chefs do this all day long and you’d better be accurate or the owner goes broke.) there are lots of other costs to include. This is why a Big Mac costs more without the pickles than with the pickles and why Obamacare costs more without pregnancy coverage for older, angry, white, males.

  3. Porter Lansing 2019-07-07 17:50

    *I was thinking like a seller, not a buyer. To be precise, a Big Mac costs more to “sell” without the pickles than it does with the pickles. A Big Mac costs you (the guest) the same, either way.

  4. Debbo 2019-07-07 19:00

    Alaska is most understandable. Hawaii has cattle ranches, but still, their inclusion on the expensive list is reasonable. Minnesota probably has more regulations for quality and care of livestock.

    Why SD and Ohio? The SDGOP doesn’t seem to give a damn about the citizens. Hmmmm.

  5. happy camper 2019-07-07 22:30

    Oh, wow, so Lansing finally admits labor costs money especially when mandatory. Assuming Walmart is representative of costs across the country is as a farse finally admitted with they are washed out by the corporate production chain. As always it’s supply and demand, where does our beef go in this “efficient” market. Sellers sell for the most they can get to benefit themselves, kind of like selling a lake home, who takes less than what the market will bring? Nobody not even the Supposed Socialist unless it’s somebody else’s money then it’s easy to be high and mighty.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-07-08 05:50

    Hap, are you saying the difference is explained entirely by higher demand for homemade hamburgers in the high-price states?

    To test that hypothesis, compare the above map with this map of ground beef demand by state:

    ground beef demand by state—Jayson Lusk, Where Do People Eat the Most Meat? blog, 2017.02.01

    [Jayson Lusk, “Where Do People Eat the Most Meat?”, 2017.02.01″]

    The author of this demand map finds a similar pattern—higher demand in the upper Midwest, lower demand on the coasts—but there are some high-demand states (Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma…) with notably lower costs than South Dakota. It would be a lot of fun to get the full dataset and run correlations….

  7. Porter Lansing 2019-07-08 08:14

    The overall meat demand map show me that conservatives don’t like to be told what to do. Even if it’s by their Doctor. (Probably correlates to the previous fatty liver chart, too.)

  8. kj trailer trash 2019-07-08 11:20

    What size burger? Quarter pounder?

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-07-08 12:14

    Serving sizes, from the methodology:

    • 1/4 pound ground beef
    • 1 tsp ketchup
    • 1 tsp mustard
    • 1/5 of an onion
    • 1 hamburger bun
    • 1 tsp mayonnaise
    • 1/4 of a tomato
    • 1 oz pickles
    • 1/8 of a head of lettuce

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.