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.
On one of the last days before USDA can carry out its plan to kill the organic livestock rule, the organic food movement put a full-page ad in the Washington Post, asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to drop the idea. The USDA announced in mid-December that it lacked statutory authority to implement the rule, which was a decade in the making, and set a 30-day comment period before it would withdraw the regulation.
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)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.