Drought and high feed costs have driven ranchers to send cattle to slaughter instead of keeping them for breeding, Reuters reports, shrinking the U.S. beef herd to its smallest size since 1962. As a result, meatpackers are paying considerably more for the cows they turn into meat, which cuts into their profits.
A plan to end deforestation in soy, palm oil, beef and cacao production by 2025 — released by 14 major agricultural commodity companies including Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and JBS — falls far short of what would be needed to meet global climate goals, environmental groups say. No paywall
Two large poultry processors agreed to guarantee a base payment to the farmers who raise their birds, a fundamental reform of the so-called tournament system that pits growers against each other for income, said the Justice Department on Monday. The reform was part of a proposed consent decree that would order the processors, Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms, plus Cargill Inc to pay $84.8 million in restitution for conspiring to hold down wages paid to processing plant workers.
When Sanderson Farms announced a base pay cut for its growers throughout Mississippi in early August, farmers claimed it was an effort to undercut wages in the wake of a merger between Sanderson and Wayne Farms, another major producer in the state, as Marcia Brown reports in FERN's latest story, produced with The Capitol Forum. (No paywall)
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)
With exports in doubt because of hurricane damage to grain elevators near New Orleans, prices for corn, soybeans and wheat, the most widely planted U.S. crops, fell to their lowest levels in several weeks in futures trading on Tuesday. The fall harvest will begin soon and could glut the U.S. market if foreign sales are disrupted.
Agricultural processor Cargill said on Wednesday that it would support the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices on 10 million acres of North American farmland over the next 10 years.
Two of the largest meat processors in the country, Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, are among roughly 200 "approved suppliers" for a USDA initiative to buy surplus fresh produce, dairy products and pre-cooked chicken and pork for distribution to needy Americans. The USDA said it approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box program but did not list individual awards.(No paywall)
A new class-action lawsuit brought by two food distributors alleges that the country's top turkey companies conspired for most of the past decade to raise turkey prices. The allegations mirror those brought in recent years against beef, pork, and chicken companies, and all revolve around the use of reports on industry production and pricing made by a secretive data company called Agri Stats.(No paywall)
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.
Last week, several Midwestern feedlot owners along with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.(No paywall)
A new project, dubbed “Hatching Hope,” aims to improve the livelihoods of 100 million people, focusing on women farmers, in the coming decade through chicken farming, which is seen as a quick way to produce food at home and for sale in town.
The recently passed tax law included a provision that gives farmers a larger tax savings if they sell their goods to cooperatives. Now grain companies, angered by what they see as an advantage being given to their competitors, are setting up their own cooperatives in case the law isn’t amended.
The U.S. Cattlemen's Association petitioned the USDA to establish label requirements for laboratory-grown meat and alternative proteins, said the weekly Tri-State Livestock News, of Belle Fourche, S.D. "We look forward to working with the agency to rectify the misleading labeling of 'beef' products that are made with plant or insect protein or grown in a Petri dish," said USCA president Kenny Graner.
McDonald’s will now require chicken suppliers, including Tyson and Cargill, to treat animals more humanely at slaughter. “Birds sold to the chain ... no longer will be shocked, shackled by the feet to conveyors and have their throats slit ...,” says The Los Angeles Times. “Such methods can leave chickens fully conscious when they are slaughtered.”
It was a comic skit on Portlandia: two hipsters asking about the provenance of the locally raised chicken being served in a restaurant. But farce has become fact this holiday season under a pilot program by Cargill that allows consumers to identify the farm that raised their turkey.
Memphis Meats, a San Francisco Bay–area company that is developing technology to grow meat from self-reproducing cells, raised $17 million in funding from investors that included Cargill, one of the largest U.S. meatpackers. “Cargill’s investment is the first by a traditional meat company in to the ‘clean meat’ sector,” said Drovers CattleNetwork.
Democratic lawmakers and farm activists criticized President Trump for his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty, saying it would result in harsher conditions for agriculture in coming years. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shrugged off climate change as inevitable and said USDA was "committed to digging ever deeper into research to develop better methods of agricultural production in that changing climate."