The U.S. meatpacking industry started consolidating rapidly in the 1970s and today, more than 70% of beef is processed by only 3% of meat processing companies. Large meatpackers are able to lower the cost of processing via economies of scale by running bigger operations. Options to supply beef cattle for processing for cattle managers have declined, since large packing organizations have led to the permanent shut down of smaller plants. By concentrating cattle slaughter geographically, large processors are able to mark down cattle prices because they have access to larger numbers of animals over a greater geographic area. Meanwhile, the cost of shipping cattle to processors, which increases with distance from the farm to the plant, are incurred by cattle farmers who already face increasingly narrow profit margins. These facets of the beef cattle industry are reflected in higher meatpacker profit margins, lower farm incomes for cattle producers, and higher consumer prices.