Scott bill would help small livestock producers
The United States loses an average of 17,000 beef producers each year, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott in filing legislation that would increase USDA support of small producers and help them find local and regional markets for their beef. "We believe we are on the right track," Scott told reporters last week.
House panel asks meatpackers how many Covid-19 infections and deaths they had at their plants
The toll the coronavirus has taken on the meatpacking industry may be greater than currently thought, said a House panel on Wednesday in asking Cargill and National Beef, two of the largest U.S. meat processors, to disclose how many of their workers had contracted Covid-19 and how many had died. (No paywall)
USDA: What should we call cell-cultured meat?
With cell-cultured meat getting closer to the marketplace, the USDA's meat safety agency is asking consumers how the high-tech products should be labeled and whether using names such as "pork loin" or "steak" to describe them should be permitted.
Two new USDA reports to put more details into cattle prices
The USDA will launch two new cattle pricing reports next week that "will bring needed clarity to the marketplace," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. The reports, which will provide more information on prices for cattle sold through the major channels, were greeted as a significant step toward transparency in an often-opaque market.
‘Oligopoly’ in cattle marketing demands action, say senators
With Sen. John Thune decrying an "oligopoly" in the beef industry, a handful of senators on Wednesday called for Congress to give cattle producers a fairer shake when they send their stock to market.
JBS says it’s back in full operation after ransomware attack
Meat processor JBS said all of its plants were fully operational on Thursday, four days after a ransomware attack shut down cattle slaughter plants in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Less than a day's worth of production was lost during the attack, the company said.
Ransomware attacks, including JBS, to be topic at U.S.-Russia summit
The United States is "looking closely" at whether to retaliate against Russian President Vladimir Putin for the ransomware attack on meatpacker JBS, said President Biden on Wednesday. The White House said all options for action were on the table and that Biden would raise the issue directly with Putin when the leaders meet in Geneva later this month.
Fairness in cattle markets will be a top priority, says Hipp
Agricultural law expert Janie Hipp promised on Thursday to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels if she is confirmed by the Senate to lead the USDA's legal shop. "I commit to you that I will get on this [cattle price transparency] as one of my very, very top priorities."
Most meat plants will be on line this week despite coronavirus, says Perdue
Although beef and pork slaughter plants ran at less than three-fourths capacity last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, "We think most of our facilities will be back on line" by the end of this week. That would account for as much as 85 percent of U.S. meat-processing capacity. Fourteen beef, pork and poultry plants resumed operation last week, according to the USDA. Other tallies showed a handful of plants still shut down.(No paywall)
USDA to buy as much excess milk and meat as possible, says Perdue
Besides billions of dollars in cash payments to farmers, coronavirus relief will include purchases of "as much" milk and meat as possible for hunger relief, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. President Trump says at least $16 billion will be spent on aid to agriculture. (No paywall)
USDA expands investigation of beef prices to include coronavirus
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on social media Wednesday that an ongoing USDA investigation of beef prices will be expanded to include complaints about unfair prices due to the coronavirus pandemic. (No paywall)
Meat prices spike, cattle prices fall, and ranchers and lawmakers see market manipulation
Wholesale beef prices have jumped to record levels, as shoppers stockpile meat in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. But this run on beef isn’t helping cattle ranchers. On the contrary, cattle prices have plummeted since January, putting many ranchers on the brink of collapse. “It’s never been worse. The futures market is crashing … and box beef prices are skyrocketing. It’s nuts,” says rancher Mike Callicrate of St. Francis, Kansas. (No Paywall)
Voluntary, not mandatory, meat-origin labels, says Perdue
Despite interest among cattle activists, a return to mandatory country-of-origin labels on beef "is not going to happen unless we want to do a billion-dollar litigation damage with Mexico and Canada," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
With beef plant, Walmart tests supply chain and consumers
Walmart entered the beef business when it opened a processing plant in Georgia that will cut and prepare steaks and roasts for sale in 500 of its stores in the U.S. Southeast. If the plant is successful, says an analyst, “it could mean Walmart takes another step up the supply chain towards the producer.”
Multiple lawsuits allege price-fixing by big beef companies
Just a few months after news broke that the nation’s top attorneys are investigating Big Chicken for alleged antitrust violations, similar allegations are piling up against Big Beef. Consumers, ranchers, and a meat distributor have now filed lawsuits alleging that the country’s biggest beef companies have broken antitrust law by conspiring to raise the price of beef and lower the amount paid to producers.
Japan ag output to decline under trade pact with U.S.
Japanese beef producers will be hit the hardest by their nation's agreement to reduce tariffs on U.S. food and agriculture products, according to an estimate by the government in Tokyo. The package calls for Japan to reduce or eliminate tariffs on $7.4 billion worth of U.S. ag exports beginning on Jan. 1.
Court documents show beef checkoff sends millions to cattle lobby
Newly released documents in a lawsuit between a group of independent Montana cattle ranchers and the USDA show that millions of dollars from an industry marketing fund are being diverted to the top cattle lobby, which some ranchers have long claimed misappropriates those funds for political use. The case could reshape how the beef checkoff, as the marketing program is called, is administered.(No paywall)
JBS, under fire for taking Trump’s tariff bailout, is accused of polluting a Colorado river
In a new lawsuit, environmental advocates say a Colorado beef-packing plant owned by JBS has been dumping polluted wastewater into a river for years. The suit comes as the Brazilian company is under fire for taking millions in President Trump's tariff bailout payments. (No paywall)
Cattle expansion slows in its fifth year
An expansionary phase in the U.S. cattle inventory, dating from 2014, is slowing, say USDA analysts, pointing to a financial pinch on the cow-calf ranchers who start the beef production cycle.