Bird flu found in 40th state this year
Scientists confirmed a backyard flock of poultry in northwestern Tennessee was infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), part of a resurgence of the disease in the central states. Some 3.37 million birds in domestic flocks have died of bird flu so far this month; nationwide losses during September will be the largest since April.
Ohio is hit hardest as bird flu returns to the Midwest
After a summertime lull, bird flu is back in the Midwest, the heart of U.S. egg and turkey production, with outbreaks at commercial poultry farms in Minnesota and Ohio since Sept. 1. Some 43.85 million birds have been culled this year due to highly pathogenic avian influenza, and one analyst says turkey and egg prices may remain elevated for some time to come.
USDA proposes livestock welfare rules for organic farms
More than four years after the Trump administration nixed the idea, the Biden administration proposed a broad-ranging set of animal welfare rules for organic farms. Producers already are required to provide their animals with year-round access to the outdoors and enough room to stretch their limbs. Agriculture Undersecretary Jenny Moffit said on Friday the proposed regulation would "establish and clarify clear standards for organic livestock and poultry production.”
Easter egg supply jeopardized amid bird flu surge
In three weeks, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have killed more than 4 percent of the egg-laying chickens in America. "Egg availability may be limited leading into Easter," traditionally a high-demand period for eggs, said analysts at rural lender CoBank.
Two cases of bird flu in upstate New York
The Agriculture Department confirmed outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAi) in adjoining Ulster and Dutchess counties in upstate New York, about 80 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River. The USDA has confirmed 12 other cases, all in the eastern half of the nation, since Feb. 8.
Meat plants tied to 6-8 percent of early Covid-19 cases
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.
Chicken company to cull birds as processing capacity plummets
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)
Is the U.S. chicken industry cheating its farmers?
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)
With Costco chicken plant set to open, Nebraskans want more oversight of poultry farms
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)
Justice Dept. intervenes in major poultry price-fixing case
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.”
Trump, Congress make it harder for CAFO neighbors to know what they’re inhaling
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)
The future looks grim for the industrial egg
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)
DoJ’s stance on California egg law could bode well for other states
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.
Florence aftermath: Lower chicken production for a top processor
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.
After Tyson pushback, Kansas considers local control
Last fall, a small community in northeast Kansas made headlines when thousands of residents protested the announcement that a Tyson poultry processing plant would soon be built nearby. Once the residents of Tonganoxie won their “No Tyson in Tongie” campaign, other communities followed suit. Now, state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it easier for communities to vote on whether to introduce new poultry processing facilities or large-scale farms in their communities, reports High Plains Public Radio.
USDA will allow more poultry plants to run at faster line speeds
Poultry processors will soon be able to ask the USDA’s meat safety agency for permission to run slaughter lines at up to 175 birds per minute, an increase from the current limit of 140 birds.
Facing public opposition, Tyson ends bid for a chicken plant in Kansas
Tyson, the largest poultry company in the U.S., has failed at its second attempt to find a location for a new meatpacking facility in Kansas. Last week, an economic development group in Sedgwick County withdrew its bid for the $320 million plant. The decision came amidst an outpouring of public backlash, and follows Tyson’s squashed attempts earlier this year to build the same facility in Tonganoxie, Kansas. (No paywall)
Lawsuit challenges rehab labor in chicken plants
A class-action lawsuit in Arkansas challenges as unconstitutional two drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation programs that require participants to work for free at chicken processing plants and a plastic manufacturing plant, reports Reveal, from the Center from Investigative Reporting. The programs are populated by defendants who are sent to rehab as an alternative to imprisonment.