More competition in meatpacking or ‘bust them up,’ senators are told

With four companies dominating the meat industry, Congress and federal regulators must intervene to assure that livestock farmers get a fair price from processors or “if need be, bust them up,” the president of the National Farmers Union said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. It was the …

White House slams Russia over ransomware attack on JBS

President Biden will meet President Vladimir Putin as planned on June 16 "as a vital part of defending America's interests," said a White House spokeswoman on Tuesday after holding Russia culpable for the ransomware attack on meatpacker JBS. "The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals."

Beef slumps while pork exports surge

For the first six months of the year, exports of American beef tumbled by 15 percent, probably due to Covid-19 turmoil, while pork exports soared by 28 percent compared to 2019 levels, said the USDA on Tuesday. Large shipments to China were the primary factor in the surge in pork shipments, …

Beef fuels biggest increase in grocery prices in nearly a decade

Grocery prices climbed by 5.6 percent, their largest 12-month increase since December 2011, although the U.S. inflation rate is a mild 0.6 percent, said the Labor Department on Tuesday. Beef prices skyrocketed by 25 percent, with most of the increase in the past three months when coronavirus …

Coronavirus slowed U.S. exports of beef and pork in May

Beef exports were the smallest in 10 years during May and pork exports were the lowest in seven months, "due in part to interruptions in slaughter and processing," said the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Chief executive Dan Halstrom said the global economic slowdown and stay-at-home orders in some Western Hemisphere nations also were factors. (No paywall)

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)