A handful of large meat processors essentially controlling the entire supply chain for the majority of all chicken, pork, and beef sold in the United States was concerning enough before COVID. When the pandemic hit, that business model was really shot full of holes, as COVID infections raced through workers at most of the large companies (Tyson Foods, Cargill, National Beef Packing, and JBS), leaving shortages of various products on store shelves. Those hiccups are still continuing, two years later.

Many Montanan's said, "Heck, we have plenty of beef in Big Sky Country! Why can't we buy beef from any of the 100s of cattle producers around our own state?".  Excellent point. Unfortunately, various state and federal regulations, along with a shortage of local processors, make it somewhat difficult for the end-use consumer to pick up 5 lbs of hamburger and a couple of t-bone steaks from your favorite local ranch.

The MR Beef Company (Montana Ranch Beef) near Bridger, MT has run into another big problem: Facebook. The social media conglomerate has repeatedly rejected their posts that offer 1/4, 1/2, or whole beef for sale. It's led them to get pretty creative in the way they phrase their messages, as seen below.

Screengrab via Facebook, used with permission by original poster
Screengrab via Facebook, used with permission by the original poster
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The best "nothing for sale" post I've seen in a while.

Facebook uses complex algorithms to flag certain words or phrases. Individuals who are trying to sell a firearm or ammo are forced to use similar creativity when offering those items for sale. They also flag posts with puppies, cats, or other pets for sale. I guess I sort of, just a tiny, little bit, understand that. But flagging post for beef?!! It's absurd.

Screengrabs via Facebook, used with permission by original poster
Screengrabs via Facebook, used with permission by original poster
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The ranch owners are frustrated, to say the least.

Justine and William Kougl own the MR Beef Company and when I caught up with Justine today on the phone, she expressed their frustration with the social media giant. When I mentioned that I've seen numerous other ranches posting about beef for sale, the friendly, talkative Kougl said she believes that once you're flagged by Facebook, you're flagged. And it's almost impossible to escape. She's had absolutely zero luck getting the company to change their mind or even respond with a personal email or a chance to speak with a company representative. Justine said she refuses to pay for Facebook ads, which could be an additional part of the issue. It's funny (not funny) how that works.

Credit: MR Beef, used with permission
Credit: MR Beef, used with permission
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Don't want a whole cow in your freezer?

Most ranchers who are offering local beef are usually selling it in 1/4 to whole-cow chunks. That's great if you've got a big spare freezer in the garage and a couple of $1,000 dollar bills laying around. For many Montanans, both of those can be a real hurdle. Kougl said MR Beef will soon be offering bi-weekly deliveries to the Billings area in more attainable quantities. For example; you might order 10 pounds of ground beef, a couple of roasts, and a four-pack of ribeyes. I'm in love with this idea and I think many of us would like to get fresh, locally raised meat by the box AND eliminate the middle-man market manipulation that seems to be happening with the big meat processors. #Supportlocal

LOOK: Food history from the year you were born

From product innovations to major recalls, Stacker researched what happened in food history every year since 1921, according to news and government sources.