As many as 18 percent of workers in meat and poultry plants are infected with the coronavirus in Iowa and South Dakota, while Pennsylvania and Nebraska account for one-quarter of the Covid-19 cases nationwide, said CDC scientists and state public health officials. The CDC released the report as Smithfield Foods, one of the giants of the meat industry, began to reopen a hog plant that was a coronavirus hot spot three weeks ago.(No paywall)
Under pressure from state and local officials, Smithfield Foods said that its mammoth pork plant in Sioux Falls "will remain closed until further notice" and suggested Covid-19 cases could jeopardize the U.S. food supply. The pork plant was linked to 38 percent of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Dakota.(No paywall)
The USDA will move quickly to eradicate the African swine fever if the viral disease is discovered in the United States, said Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach at the National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City. The USDA would order a 72-hour nationwide "standstill" of hog shipments, as a step to prevent spread of the virus, and it would kill all infected and exposed hogs, potentially thousands of animals or more.
World meat production will decline for the first time in two decades because of the devastating epidemic of African swine fever in China, the world’s largest pork producer, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday.
As a young man, Johnny Carroll Sain dreamed of owning an industrial hog farm like his uncle. Eventually, he did, raising hogs for Cargill on 55 acres in northern Arkansas. He's out of the business now, and in FERN's latest piece, published with Arkansas Life, he explores how industrial meat production has damaged the environment, the economy, and the social cohesion in his rural community. (No paywall)
U.S. red meat and poultry production will climb by 2.3 billion pounds in 2019 from this year’s level, says the first USDA forecasts of meat production for the coming year. Pork output will be up by nearly 3 percent, to 28 billion pounds.
The $50-million verdict last week against North Carolina hog producer Murphy-Brown is being hailed as a potential game-changer in the growing grassroots opposition to industrial farming operations around the country. No paywall
The U.S. hog inventory is up 3 percent from a year ago, according to a quarterly report by USDA. Beef and poultry production are also expanding, leading USDA to forecast a nearly 4-percent increase in the meat supply this year. The increase is so large that per capita meat consumption is expected to increase by 5.6 pounds, to 222.4 pounds per person.
A coalition of 55 environmental, agricultural, and food-safety organizations signed a letter urging the Iowa General Assembly pass a moratorium on new and expanded factory farm development in the state. Iowa currently houses nearly 23 million hogs, a record for the state and the highest number in the country.
The U.S. hog inventory is 2 percent larger than a year ago, an indicator that pork supplies will expand in the year ahead, according to USDA's quarterly Hogs and Pigs report. "Consumers want pork. America's pig farmers are delivering with excellent production performance," says National Hog Farmer, a trade publication, which cites an analysis that the low unemployment rate will mean higher earnings for American in 2018 and drive up meat prices.
Hog farmers are sending more hogs to market this year, which ordinarily would pull down pork prices in the supermarket. That's not the case this year, according to USDA economists, because consumer demand for bacon is bolstering pork prices overall.
Fourteen of the top 25 restaurant chains in the United States are telling farmers to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in chickens, compared with nine a year ago, according to the annual Chain Reaction report. “While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.”
The U.S. pork industry is spending billions of dollars to build five new plants and expanding another existing plant in the Midwest. But that investment will pale in comparison to the money needed to supply those packing plants with pigs, according to Successful Farming. The five new plants alone will be capable of processing at least 40,000 hogs a day.
Ray Starling, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina and worked as chief of staff for Sen. Thom Tillis, will serve as White House adviser on agriculture, trade and food assistance, said the National Economic Council. The National Pork Producers Council, a farm group, called the appointment "a clear signal of (President Trump's) commitment to reverse unnecessary regulations inhibiting pork producers and all U.S. farmers."
North Carolina is home to 8.8 million hogs, most of them in large barns in the eastern part of the state that draw complaints about noxious odors and the huge volume of manure generated by the hogs. Researchers at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), created in 1994, are running an experiment in raising hogs "without antibiotics in a way that grants them enough space to roam — and that keeps their waste out of open-air lagoons," says the North Carolina Health News.
Market prices for wheat, corn and hogs fell this fall to their lowest level in 10 years, said Purdue economist Chris Hurt, who predicts farmers will lose money on hogs for months to come. "The industry will need to consider a reduction in the breeding herd in the last half of 2017 in order to boost prices back closer to break-evens in 2018," says Hurt at farmdoc Daily.
An environmental group, Waterkeeper Alliance, says floods from Hurricane Matthew swamped 98 barns on 27 poultry farms and 15 manure lagoons on nine hog farms in North Carolina based on reconnaissance flights over storm-hit territory. State environmental officials say their aerial observations determined one hog farm had two partial breaches, the most serious type of damage for release of animal waste from a manure lagoon.
A dysfunctional and toothless state regulatory system “failed to protect rural communities” and the environment from pork producers that “repeatedly exploited weak Illinois laws to build and expand … massive” confinement facilities over the last 20 years, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune.