Weekly livestock news: May 6, 2024

Ground beef tests negative for bird flu: USDA

The USDA reported that all the ground beef samples sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories for PCR testing have been negative for the H5N1 bird flu virus. The agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service collected 30 samples of ground beef from retail outlets in the states with dairy cattle herds that had tested positive for H5N1 at the time of sample collection. “NVSL reported that all samples tested negative for H5N1. These results reaffirm that the meat supply is safe,” the USDA said. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization have said the overall public health risk is low but is higher for those with exposure to infected animals. Scientists remain vigilant for any alterations in the H5N1 virus that could adapt it to spread easily among humans, Reuters reports.

One in five milk samples nationwide shows genetic traces of H5N1, study finds

While there’s no evidence the milk is unsafe to drink, scientists say, it appears the outbreak of H5N1 may be widespread. Federal regulators have discovered fragments of bird flu in roughly 20% of retail milk samples tested in a nationally representative study, according to the FDA. Regulators said there’s no evidence this milk poses a danger to consumers or that live virus is present in the milk on store shelves. But finding traces of the virus in such a high share of samples from around the country is the strongest signal yet that the bird flu outbreak in dairy cows is more extensive than the official tally of 33 infected herds across eight states. The findings also raise questions about how the virus has evaded detection and where else it might be silently spreading, The New York Times reports.

Zoetis to sell medicated feed additive portfolio to Phibro Animal Health

Zoetis announced it has entered a definitive agreement where Phibro Animal Health will acquire the company’s medicated feed additive portfolio, certain water-soluble products and related assets for $350 million, subject to customary closing adjustments. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of this calendar year. The acquired product portfolio comprises more than 37 product lines sold in approximately 80 countries. The agreement also includes six manufacturing sites, including four in the United States, one in Italy and one in China. More than 300 Zoetis employees are expected to transition to Phibro.

Senator proposes 2024 farm bill

With the new farm bill months overdue, Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow has proposed a farm bill that would boost so-called reference prices while rejecting the $28 billion cut in SNAP sought by conservative Republicans. “That is a hard red line for me,” Stabenow told reporters. Meanwhile, Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, announced the committee will vote May 23 on a package that includes the SNAP cuts and would use climate funding for all sorts of stewardship practices, not just for climate mitigation. The “four corners” of the farm bill—Stabenow, Thompson, Representative David Scott and Arkansas Senator John Boozman—have been at an impasse for months over higher crop subsidies, SNAP funding and climate mitigation. Stabenow said she proposed the full-scale farm bill in hopes of jump-starting talks, Successful Farming reports.

Florida governor signs bill banning sale of lab-grown meat

Governor Ron DeSantis signed new legislation focused on keeping lab-grown meat out of Florida by preventing the sale of lab-grown meat in the state. During a recent news conference, the Florida governor said the state was taking action against the World Economic Forum, which he claimed is trying to force the world to eat lab-grown meat and insects. “Today, Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals,” DeSantis said. “Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef.” The bill signing is part of DeSantis’s crusade against ESG, a business philosophy that encourages investors to throw their money behind companies with consideration to their handling of environmental and social issues, WFLA reports.

FDA approves veterinary feed directive on animal drugs

The FDA announced that it has finalized Guidance for Industry #120: “Veterinary Feed Directive Regulation Questions and Answers” to help guide veterinarians, clients and stakeholders involved in veterinary feed directives. According to the FDA, GFI #120 complies with the VFD final rule that went into effect in 2015 and outlines the authorization process of approving animal drugs in the feed of food-producing animals that require veterinary oversight. This also includes antimicrobials that are medically important when needed, specifically for animal health purposes. The final guidance will also serve as a Small Entity Compliance Guide. The FDA disclosed that despite the core recommendations in final GFI #120 remaining the same as the revised draft guidance issued in 2019, the language in the final version better aligns with practices within the industry and helps reduce burdens on distributors, producers and veterinarians.