Across the country, a call grows for moratoriums on huge livestock farms

As the number of massive livestock farms balloons in states like Iowa, Maryland, and Nebraska, communities are scrambling to figure out how to control the pollution and waste produced by thousands — or tens of thousands — of animals. In some places, officials have opted to ban the mega-farms altogether, and the idea of a moratorium on the biggest animal farms is gaining support in local governments, statehouses, and even in Congress. (No paywall)

USDA proposes new criteria for fair play in livestock marketing

More than two years after killing an Obama-era proposal to make it easier for livestock producers to prove unfair treatment at the hands of meat processors, the Trump administration said it wants to use four criteria to determine whether packers give undue or unreasonable preference to one producer over another. The proposal was greeted by small-farm advocates as a small step forward while insisting that broader reform was needed.

Farm activists seek ‘robust’ fair-play rules at USDA

The USDA should provide strong protections for livestock and poultry growers in their dealings with meatpackers and processors, said farm activists on Thursday in delivering petitions signed by more than 84,000 people in support of a “robust” fair-practices rule.

With an eye to forage, USDA changes hay and graze rules

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.

Ranchers suit claims packers conspired to deflate beef prices

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)

Beef packing merger threatens last competitive cash cattle market in U.S.

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)

USDA tiptoes into cell-based ‘meat ‘ argument

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."

USDA and FDA seek to cooperate on regulating cell-culture technology

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.

Second federal court allows challenge of USDA over organic livestock

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."