The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza that killed a record 58.8 million birds in domestic flocks and drove up egg prices in 2022 and early 2023 has faded during the summer months, said USDA data published on Monday. Only three outbreaks, totaling 1,860 birds, have been discovered since Memorial Day, according to USDA's online list of confirmed cases.
Meat consumption in China has increased significantly since the 1970s and could climb further in the next decade, giving the country one of the highest per capita consumption rates in Asia, said a USDA report: "This trend creates new opportunities for exporters in the United States and other countries but it also poses food security challenges and environmental impacts."
With a lawsuit still unresolved, Massachusetts officials agreed in court to wait until Aug. 23 to enforce a state law that requires farmers to provide enough room for veal calves, breeding sows, and egg-laying hens to stand up, lie down, turn around or fully extend their limbs.
For the second time in four months, the FDA cleared cell-cultured chicken as safe to eat on Tuesday, an important step in bringing the food, grown in fermentation vats rather than from livestock, closer to the retail market. "It's food system transformation in action," said Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute, which promotes alternative proteins.
Cell-based meat companies claim their products are identical to meat, but they have one important difference, reports Joe Fassler, in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with Bloomberg Businessweek. (No Paywall)
In a summary of achievements, the White House pointed on Monday to progress toward increased competition, including action on livestock marketing, consumer right-to-repair and ocean shipping rates. It said President Biden would "highlight progress we need to continue to make to promote competition and protect consumers" in the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, with so-called junk fees as an area for action.
Colorado voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure to make free lunches available to all public school students. But voters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, rejected a proposed ban on new slaughterhouses, and California voted down a proposed tax on the ultra-wealthy to pay for electric vehicle programs and wildfire prevention.
In steps to create "more, better and new markets" for U.S. producers, the Agriculture Department awarded a total of $223 million in grants, loans and loan guarantees to expand meat and poultry processing capacity, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. Increased competition would support farmer income, said the USDA.
Congress would create a loan and guarantee program to expand competition in the meat processing industry under a bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. The bill would authorize up $20 million a year through 2024 for the loan guarantees.
In April 2020, when outbreaks of Covid-19 among slaughterhouse workers slowed U.S. meat production, the chairman of Tyson Foods said in full-page advertisements, "The supply chain is breaking." Two days later, President Trump signed an executive order to keep processing plants open during the pandemic. In retrospect, the meat supply chain was strained, but not broken, and production recovered quickly, said a team of economists in the journal Meat Science.
While supporting more transparency in cattle prices, the American Farm Bureau Federation draws the line at requiring meatpackers to buy slaughter cattle on the cash market, said president Zippy Duvall. Mandatory purchases are a prime feature of the leading Senate bill for cattle market reform.
Acknowledging "we need to get inflation under control" as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic, President Biden said on Wednesday that the administration will inject competition into the highly consolidated meat industry to bring down prices at the grocery store. Meat prices soared by 14.8 percent during 2021, part of overall food inflation of 6.3 percent.
President Biden announced a four-point plan for increased competition in the meat industry on Monday, including "across the board" enforcement of antitrust laws and support of legislation to inject transparency into cattle pricing. During a virtual meeting with farmers and ranchers, Biden said meatpacking, dominated by a handful of big processors, was a textbook example of the perils of corporate consolidation.
Outbreaks of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants slashed U.S. hog slaughter rates by 36 percent in late April 2020, but a USDA report found that “regions with large pork processing plants recovered in a couple of months” – similar to regions with small plants. Critics of the highly concentrated meat …
The Justice Department is seeking extradition of a Ukranian man on ransomware charges and has seized $6.1 million in alleged ransom payments from a Russian man, said Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday. Both men were part of the REvil cybercriminal gang linked to an attack that shut down …
The USDA will create a $100 million loan-guarantee program to expand processing capacity in the meat industry and improve the infrastructure of the food chain, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The program is "focused on the middle of the supply chain," he said, such as mobile processing units, new cold storage equipment and formation of cooperatives to gather, process and market farm goods.
Three-and-a-half years after it received a cattle group's petition to define "meat" and "beef" as referring only to the flesh of food-bearing animals, the USDA said it has no authority over the labeling of alternative proteins from plants and insects. The FDA regulates those products, said the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and when it "is made aware that a non-animal product is being labeled as 'meat' or 'beef,' FSIS refers such information to FDA."
With four companies dominating the meat industry, Congress and federal regulators must intervene to assure that livestock farmers get a fair price from processors or “if need be, bust them up,” the president of the National Farmers Union said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. It was the …