Indictments could be a sign of increased antitrust enforcement in farm sector

After years of failed attempts to draw attention to market concentration in the meat sector, farmers are cautiously optimistic about federal investigations into alleged antitrust violations in the chicken and beef industries. And grand jury indictments of four chicken industry executives could be a sign of more antitrust action to come, says a former attorney at the Department of Justice. (No paywall)

‘The workers are being sacrificed’

new FERN investigation, published Friday in collaboration with Mother Jones, reporters Esther Honig and Ted Genoways tell the stories of workers in America's meatpacking plants who are facing high rates of Covid-19 — and of the industry's chilling disregard for its workforce. (No paywall)

Cattle and biofuels clamor for aid, as Schumer proposes broader plan

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue should tap “USDA’s bank,” a Depression-era agency with easy access to billions of dollars, to bail out cattle ranchers hit by sharp declines in beef prices as Covid-19 mounts, said ranch activists on Monday. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck …

Texas Panhandle community chokes on fecal dust from feedlots

Cattle outnumber people 40 to one in Deaf Smith County in the Texas Panhandle, giving the county seat of Hereford its title as the "beef capital of the world." But the area is also a hotspot of citizen complaints about manure dust storms created when fierce winds hit feedlots housing tens of thousands of animals, according to FERN's latest story, written by Chris Collins and produced in collaboration with The Texas Observer and Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.(No paywall)

Beef packing merger threatens last competitive cash cattle market in U.S.

Last month, the nation’s fourth-largest beef packer, National Beef, announced plans to take over Sysco-owned Iowa Premium, a regional packer focused on processing Black Angus steers for the Upper Midwest. National Beef is majority-owned by the Brazilian firm Marfrig. (No paywall)

A ranch that produces not just beef, but medical parts

Just south of the Oregon border in Macdoel, California, the Prather Ranch has made a successful business not just selling top quality beef — but parts for the medical industry. "The hides are used to make purified collagen used in cell research. And the bones? Some have been made into screws for knee surgery," reports Lisa Morehouse in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with KQED's The California Report.

USDA nominee earned $100,000 in ‘pink slime’ trial

Texas Tech professor Mindy Brashears, President Trump’s nominee for agriculture undersecretary for food safety, collected $100,000 as an expert witness for Beef Products Inc. in its defamation lawsuit against ABC-TV last year.

Marginally higher beef prices at the grocery store this year

Cattle prices are stronger than expected this year but they they are likely to run below 2017 levels, with the result that retail beef prices rise modestly, at most, said the monthly Food Price Outlook. The United States is headed for the third year in a row of lower than average food inflation - 0.5 percent compared to the 20-year average of 2.1 percent annually.

This burger fights climate change, a new study says

A new Michigan State University study offers a ray of hope to America’s climate-concerned, burger eaters. Raised the right way, the study says grass-fed beef could be a part of a carbon-neutral—or even carbon-negative—diet. The study was led by professors Paige Stanley and Jason Rowntree and published in the journal Agricultural Systems.

Marfrig buys National Beef, becoming world’s No. 2 beef company

Marfrig Global Foods, a Brazilian meat processor, has acquired National Beef for $969 million. The deal will make Marfrig the second-largest beef processor in the world, after Brazil’s JBS.