livestock

USDA closes loopholes on origin of organic dairy livestock

After years of lobbying by organic farmers, the Agriculture Department tightened its rules on how dairy animals — cattle, goats and sheep — enter organic production, in the name of fairness to farmers and consumers. The new “origin of livestock” rule would end the practice of cycling dairy …

A plateau in sales of antibiotics for livestock after steep decline

Following the FDA ban on use of medically important antibiotics to encourage weight gain in hogs, cattle and poultry, sales of the drugs are averaging 6.1 million kilograms (13.4 million pounds) a year, a decline of 37 percent from their 2015 peak.

Genetic engineering is the future of agriculture, scientists tell lawmakers

The United States must modernize its regulation of agricultural biotechnology, especially in livestock, to reap the benefits of genetic engineering editing and to lead the world in breakthroughs of food production, said a panel of scientists on Tuesday. Joined by some farm-state lawmakers, panelists said the FDA and USDA should share duties in regulation of GE plants and animals.

Over FDA objections, Trump administration says USDA can regulate GE livestock

The Trump administration, in a move sought by the hog industry, pushed through an interdepartmental memorandum before leaving office that allows the USDA to regulate food-bearing GE livestock. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn publicly objected on Tuesday and said his agency "has no intention of abdicating our public health mandate" over animal biotechnology.

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)

Researchers improve texture of cell-based meat

Creating cell-based meat that tastes and feels like muscle cuts from livestock has been one of the challenges of the young industry. Now, a team of researchers at Harvard's engineering school said they have grown rabbit and bovine muscle cells on edible gelatin 'scaffolds' that mimic the texture and consistency of naturally produced meat.

A ranch that produces not just beef, but medical parts

Just south of the Oregon border in Macdoel, California, the Prather Ranch has made a successful business not just selling top quality beef — but parts for the medical industry. "The hides are used to make purified collagen used in cell research. And the bones? Some have been made into screws for knee surgery," reports Lisa Morehouse in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with KQED's The California Report.

Sight, smell of hurricane damage ‘very impactful,’ says Perdue

Grounded by bad weather, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper visited a flooded poultry farm in livestock-heavy Duplin County on Monday for a first-hand look at recovery from Hurricane Florence. “The driving tour was very impactful,” said Perdue in a USDA audio …

Nixed livestock rule and fraud top organic topics at food policy conference

The Department of Agriculture’s withdrawal of an organic animal welfare rule and fraudulent organic imports were hot topics at Wednesday’s National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference, held by the Consumer Federation of America, is underwritten by some of the biggest food companies in the country, including Cargill, DowDuPont, General Mills, Walmart, and Tyson Foods.

New USDA report finds consolidation across crop, livestock sectors

A USDA report released March 20 finds that consolidation is rampant across agricultural sectors, affecting nearly all crops and most livestock.

Reinstate organic livestock rule, industry asks Perdue

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.

USDA chief scientist slams WHO antibiotic recommendations

The USDA’s acting chief scientist, Chavonda Jacobs-Young, has publicly criticized the World Health Organization’s updated recommendations for curbing antibiotic use on farms, citing poor science.

The next wave in animal welfare: Fish

Mercy for Animals, a U.S.-based animal welfare group, is launching a campaign to bring awareness to the plight of fish in industrial aquaculture. The groups key concerns include “too many fish routinely crammed into pens and tanks, fish being raised in dirty water, high disease and mortality rates,” writes Clare Leschin-Hoar in FERN’s latest story with NPR’s The Salt.

USDA kills fair play in livestock marketing rule; revival unlikely

In one of its biggest decisions since President Trump took office, the USDA killed an Obama-era proposal that would make it easier for livestock producers to prove unfair treatment at the hands of meat processors. “They’re just pandering to the big corporations,” said small-farm defender Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, nearly shouting in his “violent opposition to what they are doing.”

Iowa ‘ag gag’ law is challenged as unconstitutional

A coalition of consumer, free speech and animal rights groups filed suit in federal court in Des Moines to challenge the constitutionality of Iowa's "ag gag" law, enacted in 2012. Iowa is the No. 1 state for hog and egg production and the largest target yet by campaigners against state laws that criminalize undercover employment on farms and at packing plants.

Climate change may help some Northeast livestock producers

Climate change’s impact on animal agriculture in the northeastern United States is expected to be mild overall — and in some cases new weather patterns might even help producers, says a study by Penn State, published in the journal Climatic Change.

Organic food industry sues USDA over slowdown of livestock welfare rules

In a challenge to the Trump administration's drive to erase Obama-era regulations, the organic food industry accused USDA of unlawfully delaying animal welfare rules that give livestock on organic farms more elbow room than allowed at conventional operations. Livestock groups and their allies in Congress have alternated between ridiculing the organic livestock rule and trying to scrap it.

Ecology program has prisoners planting sagebrush

Under a program funded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), prisoners in six states are planting sagebrush, a plant native to Western grasslands that has been depleted by development and by ranchers' preference for other grasses that make better forage for livestock. Sagebrush provides valuable habitat for big-game and birds, while providing enough shade to keep moisture in the soil.

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