For second time, USDA delays fair-play rule for livestock marketing

Saying there are significant issues that warrant further review, the USDA delayed until Oct. 19 the implementation of an Obama-era rule that makes it easier for livestock producers to prove unfair treatment at the hands of meat processors. The largest cattle- and hog-producer groups called on the Trump administration to kill the rule outright. Advocates said the new delay was "anti-farmer."

Poultry farms top hogs and cattle in North Carolina in animal waste

North Carolina is second to Georgia as the largest poultry-producing state in the nation and a new report by state environmental officials says the poultry industry produces more animal waste than they expected, says public broadcaster WFDD-FM in Winston-Salem. Not only is it more than officials expected, the nitrogen and phosphorus runoff tops hogs or cattle. In one river basin, the Yadkin-Pee Dee, it was six times more.

Interview: Perdue finds animal welfare makes a better bird

Animal-welfare measures created last year by giant poultry company Perdue Farms Inc., in a break with traditional poultry raising practices, are starting to show results, Perdue executives said last week. In an interview in Atlanta at the International Production and Processing Expo, the largest annual meeting of the poultry business, Perdue chairman Jim Perdue and Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live operations, told FERN’s Ag Insider the measures, which focus on “what a chicken wants,” are producing more active, higher quality birds.

Profit motive has egg companies racing to give male chicks a more humane death

New technology may save billions of male chicks from an inhumane death and help hatcheries cut down on waste. “All male chicks born at egg farm hatcheries are slaughtered the day they hatch. This is typically done by shredding them alive, in what amounts to a blender,” says the Washington Post. Males are considered “useless” because they can’t mature to lay eggs and they aren’t the same breed that is raised for meat. But with huge profits at stake, egg companies are vying to be the first to change that system.

Opponents call farm animal referendum in Massachusetts a food tax

Half-a-dozen farm, retail and agribusiness groups say a voter initiative in Massachusetts on animal welfare will drive up production costs and equate to an indirect food tax. The proposal, which had more than 2-to-1 support in a recent opinion poll, would end the use of sow crates, veal calf stalls and battery cages for egg-laying hens.

Cage-free chickens were a game-changer for animal welfare

No doubt about it, animal-welfare activists have made the fate of chickens a mainstream concern, says the Washington Post. “In the past two years, nearly 200 U.S. companies — including every major grocery and fast-food chain — that together buy half of the 7 billion eggs laid monthly have pledged to use only cage-free eggs by 2025,” the Post notes.

Biggest egg producers promise to stop killing male chicks

Responding to pressure from animal welfare advocates, United Egg Purchasers (UEP) has agreed to stop killing male chicks at hatcheries by 2020, says Vox. New technology will enable the companies to tell the sex of the chick while still in the shell, so that the males can be painlessly disposed of before the eggs hatch. The UEP group represents 95 percent of all eggs raised in the U.S.

FDA approves GE chicken to produce human drug

The FDA has approved use of a genetically engineered chicken to produce an enzyme in their egg whites that will be used to treat infants and adults that produce little or none of the enzyme on their own. “The GE chickens are used only for producing the drug substance and neither the …

Minnesota declares emergency due to bird-flu outbreaks

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency because of avian influenza that has hit nearly four dozen poultry farms in the state and resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of turkeys, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "It also has hit the first Minnesota chicken farm," J&A Farms, near Detroit Lakes, which has 300,000 egg-laying hens. Owner Amon Baer said federal compensation for the loss of the flock will not cover the expense of cleaning and disinfecting the laying houses.

Egg producers prepare for new California rule

California's new humane-treatment rule for egg-laying hens takes effect on Jan 1 and is having an impact on producers as far away as Pennsylvania, says Bloomberg.