The USDA announced a one-time change on Thursday to its rules on harvesting forage and grazing livestock on prevented-planting cropland. The move was meant to assure there will be enough livestock feed this year, particularly for dairy cattle.
Last week, several Midwestern feedlot owners along with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.(No paywall)
Last month, the nation’s fourth-largest beef packer, National Beef, announced plans to take over Sysco-owned Iowa Premium, a regional packer focused on processing Black Angus steers for the Upper Midwest. National Beef is majority-owned by the Brazilian firm Marfrig. (No paywall)
An estimated 40 companies worldwide are in the race to bring to market cell-based meat — "clean meat" in the eyes of proponents and "fake meat" according to ranchers. Asked if the product qualifies as meat, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Mindy Brashears responded, "This is something we will be talking about. That is an important priority for us."
The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration began a two-day stakeholder meeting Tuesday to discuss how to regulate livestock and poultry produced with cell-culture technology. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb emphasized that both agencies have a role in creating a regulatory framework for lab-grown meat, but suggested such a framework will still take months to complete.
Federal judges on the east and west coasts have rebuffed the USDA and are allowing lawsuits to proceed against the Trump administration's dismissal of animal welfare standards for organic farms, a regulation that was in the works for years. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) says that by delaying and then withdrawing the livestock rule, the government "engaged in a pattern of misconduct that can only be corrected by a federal court."
A decade ago, California voters rattled the U.S. farm sector and set off years of lawsuits by approving a referendum to give egg-laying chickens, sows and veal calves the room to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. On Nov. 6, the electorate could do it again, this time by specifying how many square feet each animal would get and by banning the sale of meat and eggs from farms that do not comply with the rules.
The two major food-safety regulators in the federal government will hear from the public on Oct. 23 and 24 on how to handle cell-based meat, a technological innovation that is nearing the marketplace. The meeting, announced on Monday, follows suggestions by the meat processors and Memphis Meats, a leader in the nascent industry, that the administration clarify lines of authority over cell-based meat.
The USDA spent a decade writing livestock welfare rules for organic farms before, in a regulatory U-turn, it decided last December that it lacked the power to implement those rules. The decision sparked a lawsuit by the organic community. Now a federal judge in San Francisco has rejected the government’s attempt to quash the suit.