From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Great herds of tule elk once grazed the rolling grasslands of California's coast and Sierra foothills. Today it is cattle grazing on private ranches that preserves 20 million acres of incomparable landscape.

The ranches are under pressure from many directions, including the consolidation of the meatpacking industry that has left few options to slaughter cows in California.

Modern packinghouses and feedlots, concentrated east of the Rocky Mountains, have become a symbol of factory farming and have left California ranchers - conventional and grass-finished - in a pinch because most of the two-dozen major slaughterhouses that existed in California in the 1980s are gone.

"We are seeing the toppling of the last critical mass of infrastructure around the country," said David Evans of Marin Sun Farms...

California cattle ranchers fight to survive