Livestock processing plants "may act as transmission vectors" for spreading the coronavirus, said researchers who estimated the plants were associated with from 6 to 8 percent of Covid-19 cases nationwide during the early months of the pandemic. "Ensuring both public health and robust essential supply chains may require an increase in meatpacking oversight and potentially a shift toward more decentralized, smaller-scale meat production," said the researchers in a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
With a 50-percent workforce decline at poultry plants owned by the Delaware chicken company Allen Harim, the company told poultry farmers last week that it will begin killing chickens in the field to reduce pressure on its remaining workers during the coronavirus pandemic.(No paywall)
Making a living as a chicken farmer has never been easy. But today in the U.S., it has more than a whiff of indentured servitude. A handful of big companies control the market, and farmers raise chickens under contract, with very little control over the things they need to be successful, from feed and stock to the birds’ healthcare. Now, as Leah Douglas and Chris Leonard explain in FERN’s latest investigation with the Guardian, there’s a way for poultry companies to insure tight market control. Based on leaked documents, the report shows how “[t]he U.S. poultry industry is able to share highly detailed information on farmer pay … giving companies the potential to collude and suppress prices paid to farmers already struggling to keep themselves afloat on razor-thin margins.” (No paywall) (No paywall)
The arrival of a Costco chicken processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, spurred the introduction of the state’s first industrial chicken farms in 2018. With the plant set to begin operations after Labor Day, some residents are pushing for stronger — or any — oversight of large poultry farms in the state.(No paywall)
The Department of Justice intervened Friday in a landmark price-fixing suit against the country’s biggest poultry companies, possibly signaling that its own grand jury investigation into the chicken sector could result in criminal indictments. The DOJ asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to stop discovery in the class-action lawsuit brought by food distributor Maplevale Farm, saying in its motion that “a limited stay is needed to protect the grand jury’s investigation.”
Recent actions by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration have exempted big livestock operations from reporting air emissions, according to the latest story from FERN, published with Mother Jones. (No paywall)
California's Prop 12, which prohibits the sale of eggs in the state from chickens housed in battery cages, along with the arrival of the first viable egg substitutes, amounts to a one-two punch that could mark the beginning of the end of the industrial egg, writes Rowan Jacobsen in FERN's latest story, published with New Food Economy. (No paywall)
In a surprising amicus brief, the Justice Department last week recommended that the Supreme Court not hear Missouri’s challenge to California’s animal-welfare laws, which mandate larger cages for some farm animals. The stance could bode well for animal-welfare advocates fighting for similar legislation in other states.
The third-largest U.S. poultry processor lost at least 8 percent of its chickens in North Carolina due to flooding from Hurricane Florence, and expects lower meat production through December as a result. Sanderson Farms was the first meat processor to announce livestock losses: 1.7 million chickens.