Fewer sows suggests producers are exiting hog business

Some hog farmers are leaving the business in the face of low market prices and coronavirus slowdowns at packing plants, said two pork industry analysts on Thursday. As evidence, they pointed to a USDA report showing that there are fewer sows on U.S. farms this fall than a year ago.

Senate bill would block faster line speeds at meat plants during pandemic

In the name of worker safety, seven Democratic senators introduced a bill on Tuesday to block the USDA from allowing faster line speeds at meat plants during the pandemic and to suspend line-speed waivers it already has issued. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said workers “are crowded into …

Hog backlog forecast to rise to 2.5 million head by year’s end

Coronavirus safeguards are constraining slaughter capacity at U.S. pork plants, causing the hog backlog to more than double to 2.5 million head by the end of this year, said a pork industry analyst on Monday. Economist Steve Meyer said the pandemic was "by far, the worst financial disaster ever for American hog farmers, who already were in a weakened financial position due to two years of trade retaliation."

Coronavirus adds stress to agricultural finances

The agricultural sector will struggle over the next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, leading some farmers to quit or be forced out of business, said economist Allen Featherstone in a think tank paper released on Monday. (No paywall)

Meat plants should slow the line, separate workers, say unions

The government should order meatpackers to slow the work pace at typically crowded processing plants and separate workers to reduce the risk of coronavirus outbreaks, said two labor unions on Wednesday. During a House hearing, the president of one of the unions said that "some responsible employers, like Cargill and Safeway, have done what is right," while companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger have not. (No paywall)

How did Europe avoid a Covid-19 crisis at its meatpacking plants?

In the United States, Covid-19 has been sweeping through meatpacking plants, infecting more than 24,000 workers and killing at least 92 of them. Those figures are more than nine-times larger than at meat plants in Europe, though the U.S. industry has only a third more workers.  Bridget Huber explains how Europe largely avoided the crisis sweeping the U.S. industry in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)

Beef and pork exports run ahead of 2019 pace despite pandemic

Exports of U.S.-grown pork and beef are flowing at a higher volume than in 2019, with a sales value of $4.86 billion through April. Strong meat exports are a sign that the United States is a reliable supplier worldwide despite coronavirus disruptions in meatpacking plants, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. (No paywall)

Coalition calls for ‘corporate’ meat boycott to improve working conditions

Thanks to falling production and rising prices, Americans are expected to eat less meat this year than last. But a coalition of groups led by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) wants Americans to cut back even further, calling for a boycott on "corporate" meat until working conditions in meatpacking plants improve. (No paywall)

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)

With industrial meat hobbled, small producers are seeing a surge in sales. Can it last?

With industrial meat operations struggling to stay open, consumers are turning in droves to smaller producers to keep them in beef, pork, chicken and lamb, as Stephen R. Miller reports in FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. Miller's story takes a close look at one operation, SkyPilot Farm in Longmont, Colorado, which is run by Chloe Johnson and her husband Craig Scariot. Since the outbreak, sales at SkyPilot have increased about 400 percent and the customer base has tripled.(No paywall)