Amid Covid-19 bottleneck in meat industry, PRIME Act gains support

Closures at meatpacking plants due to outbreaks of Covid-19 have sent shockwaves through the livestock industry. With thousands of confirmed cases among plant workers and operations stuttering across the country, the backlog of animals awaiting slaughter is growing and farmers are running out of options. The bottleneck promises to have long-term consequences for American ranchers and is injecting new urgency into calls for relaxing federal regulations that limit small farmers’ access to livestock processing.(No paywall)

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)

Fewer dairy farms as milk production rises

U.S. milk production is projected to top 220 billion pounds this year as a long-running structural shift puts production in the hands of fewer, but larger, dairies. At the same time, the USDA said there were 34,187 dairy herds licensed to sell milk in 2019, a drop of 9 percent from the previous year.

Consolidation and climate change threaten U.S. fisheries, say FERN panelists

While overfishing no longer threatens U.S. fisheries, other pressing sustainability issues, such as finfish aquaculture and consolidation, top the list of concerns among fishers and fisheries experts, according to panelists who spoke at FERN Talks and Eats in New York City on Monday.(No paywall)

Booker introduces bill that would reshape livestock farming

Sen. Cory Booker, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for president, today introduced new legislation that would reshape how livestock farming operates in the U.S. The Farm System Reform Act includes some changes that Booker and other legislators have proposed in the past, like a moratorium on new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Other elements of the bill are new, like a plan to phase out large CAFOs in the next 20 years.(No paywall)

With relocation, ERS losing top expert on consolidation

Thanks to the Trump administration’s decision to move the agency out of Washington, the USDA’s Economic Research Service is losing its top expert on market consolidation at a time when declining competition in agriculture is under increased scrutiny from policymakers and government officials.(No paywall)

Dairy farmers may have to get big to survive, says Perdue

In a state losing two dairy farms a day, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday that it’s hard to make a living with a small herd of cows. The “economies of scale having happened in America—big get bigger and small go out,” Perdue said at a dairy show in Wisconsin, in comments …

As dairy industry reels, new film details one family’s struggle to make it work

“Farmsteaders” is a new documentary that tells the story of Celeste and Nick Nolan and their four young children, who run Laurel Valley Creamery in southeastern Ohio. The 110-acre dairy farm belonged to Nick’s grandfather, who died in an accident on the farm in 1994. In the years since, agriculture has continued to move away from small operations like the Nolans’ to the sprawling industrial farms that dominate today. The dairy industry, in particular, has been decimated by consolidation, resulting in the collapse of family farms and a spate of suicides as farmers become increasingly desperate. In 2001, Celeste and Nick moved to the farm to raise their kids. They hobby-farmed for a few years, but when Nick lost his job they began farming full-time, turning to cheesemaking to sustain the operation.(No paywall)

How buying Monsanto tanked Bayer

The 2016 acquisition by Bayer of seed and chemical giant Monsanto has turned out to be a rotten deal. Shares in the German company have fallen 30 percent since the $63 billion deal closed, and are now at just 50 percent of their value in 2015, when the company was Germany’s most valuable.