The increasing dominance of large factory farms in Iowa means hog farmers earn $2 less per pound of pork than they did 40 years ago, when the state had many more smaller farms, according to a new report by the nonprofit advocacy group Food & Water Watch.
Hog farmers will have an additional two weeks, until April 29, to apply for federal payments to offset the pandemic-depressed prices offered by packers on the cash market during the summer of 2020, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday.
With sales to China waning, the growth markets for U.S. pork exports will be Mexico and Latin America, said economist Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends. Mexico accounted for 22 cents of every $1 in pork exports last year, and eight Latin American nations, often regarded as lesser customers, are set to become major customers for U.S. pork.
Although the White House blames big meatpackers for driving up food prices, the real culprits are higher costs and labor shortages all along the supply chain, said a pork industry report on Wednesday. Four packers control 65 percent of hog slaughter in the United States, but the industry is less concentrated than it was five years ago.
The Environmental Protection Agency has notified North Carolina civil rights groups that it will investigate whether state regulators discriminated against communities of color when they approved four applications to convert hog waste into fuel. (No paywall)
More than three years ago, California voters approved Proposition 12, guaranteeing sows, veal calves and egg-laying hens more room to move about and barring the sale of eggs, veal and pork from farms, even in other states, that do not comply with the new standards. The law went into effect on Sunday, although state officials were still working on a final set of regulations.(No paywall)
On Wednesday, two days after state legislators rewrote a voter-approved animal welfare law, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law, averting a possible shortage of eggs and pork. The new law revamps housing standards for egg-laying hens and delays until Aug. 15 a prohibition on the sale of pork products from farms that do not give pigs enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs or turn around freely.
With California's Proposition 12 animal welfare law set to go into effect on Jan. 1, two farm groups asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the voter-approved standards as an unconstitutional burden on farmers and consumers everywhere. Prop 12 bans the sale of pork products that are produced outside the state but do not match California's rules.
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.
In a step to protect U.S. swine and pork exports, the USDA said on Thursday that it will establish a "foreign animal disease protection zone" in two Caribbean territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. African swine fever was confirmed a month ago in the Dominican Republic.
Producers who were forced to destroy pigs, chickens, and turkeys last year due to the pandemic are eligible for federal compensation ranging from 32 cents per chick to $258.57 for a heavyweight hog, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. The new Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program is the latest in coronavirus relief programs that have paid $24.3 billion to farmers since May 2020.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear a meat industry challenge to California's voter-approved Proposition 12, which requires farmers to give sows, veal calves, and egg-laying chickens more room to move about and bans shipments of pork, veal, and eggs produced outside of California if the animals are housed in conditions that do not meet California's standards.
Elsie Herring, who died this week, was the public face of the many rural North Carolinians who felt besieged by the proliferation of industrial hog farms. In a region where complaining about these operations was considered both risky and futile, she confronted the industry over its pollution for more than two decades and never let herself appear intimidated. No paywall
A coronavirus outbreak at the Farmer John pork processing plant in Los Angeles County that began nearly a year ago has been the focus of two state investigations. Cases at the Smithfield Foods-owned plant have more than doubled — with over 300 cases reported in January alone — as the county has become a Covid-19 epicenter, Leah Douglas and Georgia Gee report in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with the Covid-19 Reporting Project.
Smithfield Foods announced Thursday that it had reached a settlement with plaintiffs who had sued the company over the stench, flies, buzzards, and truck traffic coming from its industrial swine farms in North Carolina. The announcement came immediately after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, rejected a call from the world’s largest pork producer for a retrial in a lower court case it had lost. (No paywall)
The United States suspended $817 million in trade preferences granted to Thailand "based on its lack of sufficient progress [in] providing the United States with equitable and reasonable market access for pork products," said the Office of the U.S. trade representative on Sunday. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer said when countries fail to meet the criteria to participate in the General System of Preferences, "we will take action by limiting their preferential duty-free access to the U.S. market."
Hog farmers struggled with a coronavirus-caused backlog of market-ready hogs that peaked at 3.5 million head at the end of May, forcing them to cull some and slowing weight gain on others. The backlog remains large, but Purdue economist Jayson Lusk says farmers may see "possibly elevated hog prices" by the end of the year as the hog supply shrinks.
More federal aid is needed if hog farmers are to survive the coronavirus pandemic, said pork industry leaders on Thursday. They urged the Senate to approve compensatory payments for hogs that are culled and an additional round of cash payments to all U.S. farmers and ranchers. (No paywall)
Nationwide, pork production has dropped by more than 20 percent over the last month, and industrial farmers find their barns filling up. Now, the "end for hundreds of thousands of pigs is likely to arrive in an orgy of waste that turns the stomachs of even the most pragmatic," writes Elizabeth Royte, in FERN's latest story. "Asked to describe how a farmer decides to 'depopulate' — the word of choice — a barn full of market-ready pigs, David Newman, a Missouri pig farmer and president of the National Pork Board, sighs heavily. 'It’s a tremendously emotional time to be in the livestock business. We’re trying to be creative.'”(No paywall)