Drought and high feed costs have driven ranchers to send cattle to slaughter instead of keeping them for breeding, Reuters reports, shrinking the U.S. beef herd to its smallest size since 1962. As a result, meatpackers are paying considerably more for the cows they turn into meat, which cuts into their profits.
Facing pressure from local health officials over conditions in their plants, meatpacking companies "drafted and pitched an executive order to the Trump White House" to keep slaughterhouses open during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, said a congressional staff report on Thursday. When President Trump issued an order that adopted the industry position, meatpackers exaggerated its scope.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation Monday into the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants during the course of the pandemic. The committee sent letters to the country's top meatpackers — JBS, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods — as well as to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting scores of information on the entities' management of the spread of the virus among meatpacking workers, with a response deadline of Feb. 15.(No paywall)
As Covid-19 has swept through meatpacking facilities, it has been hard to figure out exactly how many workers have gotten sick or died of the virus. Some companies have shared numbers on positive cases, but most of the largest meatpackers have kept that data private. Critics say that the lack of disclosure puts public health at risk, especially as nearly all idled meat plants reopen. (No paywall)
The Trump administration's top meat-industry priority is reopening three pork plants, now shuttered due to coronavirus outbreaks, that account for 12 percent of U.S. hog slaughter, said the House Agriculture Committee chairman on Wednesday. Labor and public officials said meat production will not revive nationwide unless workers feel safe in the processing plants. (No paywall)
A class-action lawsuit filed this week on behalf of pork consumers alleges that hog companies have colluded to artificially hike the price of pork — and their profits. The complaint also provides new insight into Agri Stats, a data-sharing company that sits at the center of the wave of antitrust allegations sweeping the meat sector.(No paywall)
Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Perdue Farms have all been subpoenaed by the Department of Justice in the agency’s grand jury investigation into the poultry sector. FERN broke news of the investigation in June. The Wall Street Journal reports that the three poultry companies will cooperate …
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in Chicago granted the Department of Justice’s request to stay discovery in a high-profile case that alleges collusion in the poultry industry. Durkin halted discovery in the case for three months, half the time DOJ had requested to protect its own grand jury investigation of the poultry sector.
Last week, several Midwestern feedlot owners along with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.(No paywall)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (No paywall)
Tyson, the largest U.S. meat company, will buy Keystone Foods for $2.16 billion. Keystone's prior owner, Marfrig Global Foods, announced the brand was up for sale earlier this year. The deal will face regulatory review in at least the U.S. and China.
Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer last Tuesday signed into law a controversial bill that will amend the state’s regulatory requirements for poultry confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), local media reported. The bill was dubbed the “Tyson bill,” for its favorability to the large poultry processor who has attempted multiple times to set up a processing plant in the state.
Although Kansas has been the site of several high-profile fights over the future of chicken farming, the state’s Senate advanced a bill last week that would increase the cap on how many chickens a farmer can raise at once.
Tyson Poultry will pay a $2-million criminal fine for polluting a stream near its southwest Missouri plant. The pollution killed an estimated 108,000 fish.
After two years of community protests, a proposal to build 13 chicken houses on a farm in Wicomico County, Maryland, was defeated last week. Neighbors worried about potential air and groundwater pollution from the influx of chickens.
Top U.S. poultry processors are planning to expand production this year, reports Bloomberg. As prices for feed grains have plummeted, worrying farmers, processors are taking advantage of the lower costs.
Last fall, a small community in northeast Kansas made headlines when thousands of residents protested the announcement that a Tyson poultry processing plant would soon be built nearby. Once the residents of Tonganoxie won their “No Tyson in Tongie” campaign, other communities followed suit. Now, state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it easier for communities to vote on whether to introduce new poultry processing facilities or large-scale farms in their communities, reports High Plains Public Radio.
In separate lawsuits filed late Tuesday, food distributors Sysco and US Foods alleged that some of the biggest chicken processors in the country colluded to raise chicken prices. The lawsuits target Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Meat Co., Sanderson Farms, Perdue Foods, and others.
Two grocers last week filed a price-fixing lawsuit against the country’s top poultry processors. The suit alleges that the processors, including Tyson Foods, Koch Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Perdue Farms, have conspired to fix the price of broiler chickens over the course of several decades.