China sets monthly record for purchases of U.S. food and ag

Although it is likely to fall short of its “phase one” target, China purchased a record $4.8 billion of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products during October, contributing to the surge in grain and soybean prices, analysts said on Monday. “The big question right now for …

Beef slumps while pork exports surge

For the first six months of the year, exports of American beef tumbled by 15 percent, probably due to Covid-19 turmoil, while pork exports soared by 28 percent compared to 2019 levels, said the USDA on Tuesday. Large shipments to China were the primary factor in the surge in pork shipments, …

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 slowed U.S. exports of beef and pork in May

Beef exports were the smallest in 10 years during May and pork exports were the lowest in seven months, "due in part to interruptions in slaughter and processing," said the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Chief executive Dan Halstrom said the global economic slowdown and stay-at-home orders in some Western Hemisphere nations also were factors. (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.

‘The workers are being sacrificed’

new FERN investigation, published Friday in collaboration with Mother Jones, reporters Esther Honig and Ted Genoways tell the stories of workers in America's meatpacking plants who are facing high rates of Covid-19 — and of the industry's chilling disregard for its workforce. (No paywall)

Stronger-than-expected sales to China buoy US ag exports

The China-U.S. trade war cut deeply into U.S. farm exports to China, but not as far as initially estimated, said the Department of Agriculture on Monday. The agency forecasted $139 billion in agriculture exports, the largest amount in three years and up 3 percent from 2019. A key reason for the …

Complaints about North Carolina’s hog industry vanished in state bureaucracy

For years, complaints about hog pollution in North Carolina disappeared after they were filed with state authorities, FERN's latest story with The Guardian and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting says. But as a result of a settlement with environmental justice groups, the state this year began posting complaints online – exceeding in six months the number of complaints in the prior decade.

Smallest U.S. ag exports in three years amid trade war

The trade war with China and low commodity prices will combine to slash U.S. farm exports by 4.5 percent this fiscal year, said the USDA on Thursday in a quarterly forecast. Exports of $137 billion would be the smallest since 2016, when exports bottomed out following the collapse of the commodity boom.

Hog prices below cost of production because of trade war

Pork producers will struggle through this winter with market prices below the cost of production, says economist Chris Hurt of Purdue University. "Record pork production and trade disputes continue to be the near-term drag on prices," wrote Hurt at the farmdoc Daily blog, adding that futures prices in the spring and summer "will be high enough to provide profitability."