House bill would help meat processors boost facilities, get USDA certification

Ten members of the U.S. House filed a bipartisan bill to provide grants to poultry and red meat processors that want to improve their facilities so they can move to federal inspection and sell their products across state lines. Sponsors include leaders of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees USDA spending.(No paywall)

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)

Meat production to rebound sharply after coronavirus slowdown – USDA

Covid-19 infections of workers at U.S. packing plants forced declines in red meat and poultry production during April with beef production hit the hardest, said USDA economists on Monday. Disruptions will be felt for the rest of the year, but meat production in 2021 is forecast to rise nearly 4 percent higher than this year due to recovery in all major types of meat. (No Paywall)

Pay hog farmers indemnities for culling herds, say senators

The next coronavirus relief bill should include indemnity money for hog farmers who killed their animals because slaughter plants were shut down due to the coronavirus, said 14 senators in a letter to House and Senate leaders on Monday. The letter did not suggest how much the indemnities would cost.

Most meat plants will be on line this week despite coronavirus, says Perdue

Although beef and pork slaughter plants ran at less than three-fourths capacity last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, "We think most of our facilities will be back on line" by the end of this week. That would account for as much as 85 percent of U.S. meat-processing capacity. Fourteen beef, pork and poultry plants resumed operation last week, according to the USDA. Other tallies showed a handful of plants still shut down.(No paywall)

Iowa leaders ask federal indemnities for hog culling

Farmers across the nation may be forced to kill 700,000 hogs a week because of coronavirus closures and slowdowns at slaughter plants, said four Iowa leaders in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Monday. Led by Gov. Kim Reynolds, the elected officials asked for federal indemnities to help the farmers stay in business.

Hormel offers $500 Covid-19 bonus to steady workers

Up to $7 million will be paid in bonuses to "team members who continue to produce food during the Covid-19 outbreak," said Hormel Foods on Thursday. The money will be paid in July to employees at Hormel's meat and processed food plants and would follow a $4 million bonus paid in April. (No paywall)

Mapping Covid-19 in meatpacking plants

FERN staff writer Leah Douglas has created a map of meatpacking and food processing plants where cases of Covid-19 have been reported. As of midday Wednesday, at least 11 meatpacking plants and two processed food plants have closed, and a total of 40 have reported cases of Covid-19. At least 1,950 workers are confirmed sick and at least 11 have died, the story says.(No paywall)

JBS tells 6,000 beef workers to self-quarantine

Meatpacker JBS USA said it will close its cattle slaughter plant in Greeley, Colorado, until April 24 while its 6,000 employees self-quarantine in an effort to eradicate a coronavirus outbreak in the community. Two JBS workers have died of Covid-19 and four dozen others have tested positive for the virus.

With beef plant, Walmart tests supply chain and consumers

Walmart entered the beef business when it opened a processing plant in Georgia that will cut and prepare steaks and roasts for sale in 500 of its stores in the U.S. Southeast. If the plant is successful, says an analyst, “it could mean Walmart takes another step up the supply chain towards the producer.”