Ranchers, labor union call for stronger Covid-19 protections for meatpacking workers

As Covid-19 spreads in meatpacking plants across the country, a number of groups representing ranchers and farmers have joined with a key labor union to call for stronger protections for meatpacking workers. The alliance comes as the tally of meat industry workers who have contracted the disease approaches 25,000, even as companies restrict information about outbreaks at their facilities. (No paywall)

Amid Covid-19 bottleneck in meat industry, PRIME Act gains support

Closures at meatpacking plants due to outbreaks of Covid-19 have sent shockwaves through the livestock industry. With thousands of confirmed cases among plant workers and operations stuttering across the country, the backlog of animals awaiting slaughter is growing and farmers are running out of options. The bottleneck promises to have long-term consequences for American ranchers and is injecting new urgency into calls for relaxing federal regulations that limit small farmers’ access to livestock processing.(No paywall)

EPA boosts safety rules for M-44 cyanide cartridges

The EPA said on Thursday that although it will allow the continued use of cyanide in the anti-predator M-44 device, it will add safety requirements, including that the devices be placed farther away from residences.

Multiple lawsuits allege price-fixing by big beef companies

Just a few months after news broke that the nation’s top attorneys are investigating Big Chicken for alleged antitrust violations, similar allegations are piling up against Big Beef. Consumers, ranchers, and a meat distributor have now filed lawsuits alleging that the country’s biggest beef companies have broken antitrust law by conspiring to raise the price of beef and lower the amount paid to producers.

Court documents show beef checkoff sends millions to cattle lobby

Newly released documents in a lawsuit between a group of independent Montana cattle ranchers and the USDA show that millions of dollars from an industry marketing fund are being diverted to the top cattle lobby, which some ranchers have long claimed misappropriates those funds for political use. The case could reshape how the beef checkoff, as the marketing program is called, is administered.(No paywall)

USDA tiptoes into cell-based ‘meat ‘ argument

An estimated 40 companies worldwide are in the race to bring to market cell-based meat — "clean meat" in the eyes of proponents and "fake meat" according to ranchers. Asked if the product qualifies as meat, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Mindy Brashears responded, "This is something we will be talking about. That is an important priority for us."

FERN Q&A: Beaver-created wetlands could be a farmer’s best friend

In his new book, Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, FERN contributor Ben Goldfarb makes the case that this widely vilified rodent, which was trapped nearly out of existence in the U.S., is not only making a comeback but could play a major role in mitigating the effects of climate change and other problems afflicting farmers. (No paywall)

Appeals court sides with ranchers on Montana beef checkoff

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s 2017 injunction against the collection of the Montana state beef checkoff in a decision released Monday. The ruling supports ranchers’ claim that the state's beef checkoff program impinges on their First Amendment rights by obligating them to pay taxes to support “private speech.” As the case between the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) and the Department of Agriculture unfolds, it has greater implications for checkoff programs in other states. No paywall

Using CRISPR to create a ‘boys only’ cattle herd

One of the best-known scientists in the GMO world, Alison Van Eenennaam, “aims to create a bull that will father only male offspring” through a bit of gene editing with CRISPR, said MIT Technology Review.

Judge dismisses federal case against Nevada rancher Bundy

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed federal charges against Navada rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons "with prejudice," meaning the government cannot try them again for an armed standoff over cattle grazing on public land, said the Los Angeles Times. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," said Navarro, because prosecutors failed to share evidence with the defendants.