Update [2007-12-28 10:14:4 by Tom Philpott]:According to AP, Tyson CEO Richard Bond made total compensation of $24 million in 2007, not $9.88 million, as reported by Bloomberg.

Here’s how industrial meat production works: you stuff animals into pens, feed them genetically modified, nutritionally suspect corn and soy (along with growth hormones), and force them to wallow in their own waste while keeping them alive with regular lashings of antibiotics.

Then you haul them to vast death factories, where de-skilled, low-paid workers, under immense time pressure, dismember them and pack their flesh into little shrink-wrapped styrofoam packages.

There’s plenty to be said about these practices — Lord knows I’ve said my share, and I’m not done.

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But you can’t say feedlot meat production isn’t profitable. Here is Bloomberg News:

Tyson Foods, the largest United States meat producer, increased the compensation of its chief executive, Richard L. Bond, fivefold and quadrupled the pay of its former chief, John H. Tyson, as the company returned to profit after a 2006 loss.

Despite heightened corn and soy prices, Tyson churned out $268 million in net income in its last fiscal year, Bloomberg reports. CEO Richard Bond’s compensation package reached $9.88 million, while company chairman and former CEO John H. Tyson, grandson of the founder, pulled in $9.25 million.

These marvelous profits and fat salaries are only possible because the company expertly externalizes the vast environmental, social, and economic messes it creates nationwide.

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Getting those costs off the backs of communities, and onto the meat industry’s balance sheet, should be a primary task of the environmental movement in 2008.

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