Packers: ‘We’re not to blame for high meat prices’
The chief executives of the nation’s four largest meatpacking companies said on Wednesday that they were not the cause of surging meat prices at the grocery store, which are up by 15 percent in a year. And they told a skeptical House Agriculture chairman David Scott there was no pact to drive up profits at the expense of consumers or limit the meat supply for Americans.
Meatpacking leaders to speak at House hearing on industry concentration
The chief executive officers of Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef — the four largest meatpackers in the country — will testify at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on consolidation in the meat industry, said chairman David Scott.
House to vote on cattle contract library, a marketing reform
A bill to require USDA reports on the number of cattle being delivered under contract for slaughter by meatpackers will be called for a House vote on Tuesday. It will be debated under provisions that prohibit amendments and require a two-thirds majority for passage, an approach usually reserved for bills that are noncontroversial.
Arguments over Prop 12 sizzle as implementation nears
After years of fighting California's voter-approved Proposition 12 in court, meatpackers and the pork industry are asking for more time to comply with its animal welfare requirements. Estimates of the impact on consumers when Prop 12 takes effect on Jan. 1 vary widely, from increased pork costs of $10 per person annually to a warning by a hog-state senator that bacon could cost $17 a pound next year.
Fairness in cattle markets will be a top priority, says Hipp
Agricultural law expert Janie Hipp promised on Thursday to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels if she is confirmed by the Senate to lead the USDA's legal shop. "I commit to you that I will get on this [cattle price transparency] as one of my very, very top priorities."
Address imbalances in cattle market, say farm groups
In a joint statement on Monday, six farm groups called on the Justice Department to investigate the highly consolidated meatpacking industry and urged the development of “new independent, local and regional packers.” Ranch and farm groups have complained repeatedly during the …
DOJ: Tyson was not directed by federal government to continue pandemic production
The federal government never instructed Tyson Foods and other meatpackers to keep their plants open during the early months of the pandemic, according to the Department of Justice in a recent filing in a federal appeals case. Experts say the brief, along with others filed in the case, is a good sign for the plaintiffs, the relatives of four Tyson workers in Waterloo, Iowa, who died of Covid-19 last spring. It is also likely to have broad implications for other Covid-related lawsuits filed by meatpacking workers around the country. (No paywall)
New fair play rule hurts livestock producers, say ag groups
One of the largest U.S. farm groups called for the incoming Biden administration to rescind a new fair play rule for livestock marketing, unveiled by the Agriculture Department on Thursday, that it sees as a setback for family farmers in dealing with the handful of companies that dominate the meat industry.
Red meat production plunges 23 percent during April amid pandemic
U.S. meatpackers ran at roughly three-fourths capacity during April as outbreaks of the coronavirus forced some of the country's largest meat plants to close temporarily, said the USDA on Thursday. Production is rebounding in May, but the risk of a resurgence of the virus hangs over the industry, said analysts. (No paywall)
As more meatpacking workers fall ill from Covid-19, meat companies decline to disclose data
As Covid-19 has swept through meatpacking facilities, it has been hard to figure out exactly how many workers have gotten sick or died of the virus. Some companies have shared numbers on positive cases, but most of the largest meatpackers have kept that data private. Critics say that the lack of disclosure puts public health at risk, especially as nearly all idled meat plants reopen. (No paywall)
Meat prices spike, cattle prices fall, and ranchers and lawmakers see market manipulation
Wholesale beef prices have jumped to record levels, as shoppers stockpile meat in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. But this run on beef isn’t helping cattle ranchers. On the contrary, cattle prices have plummeted since January, putting many ranchers on the brink of collapse. “It’s never been worse. The futures market is crashing … and box beef prices are skyrocketing. It’s nuts,” says rancher Mike Callicrate of St. Francis, Kansas. (No Paywall)
USDA spells it out: Grass-fed beef comes from cattle fed only grass
Eight months after one USDA agency rescinded its standard for grass-fed beef, a sister agency published a "labeling guideline" — open to public comment for 60 days — that says the term is available only for beef from cattle "that were only (100 percent) fed grass (forage) after being weaned." A small-farm group said the step would "preserve the label's strong reputation."
Meat plants are safer but injuries remain common
A government report says the injury rate for meat industry workers has improved greatly yet injuries are more common than in the rest of the manufacturing sector, reports Harvest Public Media. "But injuries in the meat industry are also likely to be under-reported," it says.
Tyson meatpacking workers averaged an amputation a month
Federal workplace records show that during the first nine months of 2015, "workers in meatpacking plants owned by Tyson Foods averaged at least one amputation a month," says Harvest Public Media, which credits occupational health professor Celeste Monforton for getting the data through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Senate sends ag-reauthorization bill to House
With time running out, the Senate passed and sent to the House a bill to reauthorize federal inspection of export grain and a requirement for meatpackers to report purchase prices of cattle, hogs and sheep.
Export inspection, price-reporting bill cleared for Senate vote
The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill to reauthorize federal inspection of export grain and the requirement that meatpackers report purchase prices of cattle, hogs and sheep. The five-year reauthorization now goes to the Senate floor for a vote. The House approved separate bills to reauthorize the programs on June 9 by voice votes.
It’s grueling work and too complex for a robot
Meatpackers may as well put up a sign: No robots need apply, says KUNC's Luke Runyon in a story on the limits of technology and the economics of meat plants.
JBS in deal to buy Cargill’s pork farms and packing plants
The giant Brazilian meatpacker JBS, a relative newcomer to North America, will buy the pork operations of agribusiness rival Cargill for $1.45 billion, the companies announced.