Weekly livestock news: August 1, 2022

Facing drought and inflation, farmers in the western United States sell off their cows

Extreme drought and pressure from inflation are forcing U.S. farmers in western states to sell off their cattle herds in higher numbers, at levels not seen in more than a decade, CNN reports. Temperatures in Texas have been about 100 degrees for weeks, depleting water and burning grass, which are critical to feed and maintain cow herds. Some ranchers say their only option is to sell their cows, especially as inflation pushes up costs for things like feed, fertilizer and fuel. “We haven’t had this kind of movement of cows to market in a decade, since 2011, which was our last really big drought,” said David Anderson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M. Ranchers are getting a good price at market, Anderson said. While this could lead to lower short-term prices for consumers, smaller herds and fewer breeding cows could mean higher consumer prices for the next two years. USDA projects a 7% decline in beef production next year.

Poultry processors reach $84 million settlement with Justice Department over antitrust claims

Cargill, Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms have agreed to pay more than $84 million to settle antitrust claims by the Justice Department. The department alleged that the companies shared information about workers in order to drive down compensation. Under the agreement, Cargill Meat Solutions will pay $15 million, Sanderson will pay $38.3 million and Wayne will pay $31.5 million. The department also said it had reached a settlement with Cargill and Continental Grain, which have finalized their deal to buy Sanderson Farms and combine it with Continental subsidiary Wayne Farms. Under that agreement, the companies won’t be allowed to lower the base pay of chicken growers, but they will be allowed to offer incentives. The agreement also prohibits retaliation for growers who raise antitrust concerns with the government, according to Reuters.

Dairy industry job board available for young professionals, with in-person networking event set for World Dairy Expo

World Dairy Expo this fall will feature Career Connections, a job board and networking event that aims to connect students and young professionals with job and internship opportunities in the dairy industry. The networking event will take place Friday, October 7 at the Expo’s exhibition hall. Career Connections is a free resource and event. Trade show participants and sponsors of Expo, in addition to dairy farms globally, can participate by applying online. Job and internship seekers can visit the same online site to view a current list of openings and register for the in-person event.

BioChek receives full approval for rapid salmonella testing in poultry

BioChek has received full approval to offer rapid salmonella testing for poultry producers. The National Poultry Improvement Plan approval, granted in June, allows the BioChek salmonella qPCR reagents to be used as a rapid test in primary production samples. The test provides 24-hour results. According to the company, this approval will help feed mills, broiler breeders’ farms, hatcheries and processing plants monitor, control and respond to pathogens in poultry and poultry products.

Tyson selects six startups to support in food sustainability program

Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, recently hosted its first-ever Demo Day event for sustainability-focused startups. Twenty companies participated, showcasing potential solutions to help reduce greenhouse gases, cut food waste, improve animal welfare, implement regenerative agriculture and improve water management. Six startups have been selected to receive mentorship and other partnership opportunities with Tyson Foods. More details on the selected startups are in the announcement in Feedstuffs.

USDA begins payments to producers who sold hogs on a spot market at the start of the pandemic

USDA last week announced it would begin issuing long-awaited pandemic assistance payments to hog producers through the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program. The agency also increased the amount of funding available through the program to approximately $62.8 million. SMHPP was developed due to a reduction in packer production at the start of the pandemic, when fewer negotiated hogs led to lower market prices. The funding assists eligible producers who sold hogs through a spot market sale from April 16, 2020, through September 1, 2020. The Farm Service Agency accepted applications for the program through April 29 of this year. “In order to provide more targeted support to hog producers affected by the pandemic, FSA was able to increase funding for SMHPP to provide full payments to producers instead of applying a payment factor,” said FSA administrator Zach Ducheneaux. Feedstuffs reports.