Weekly livestock news for February 10, 2020

Bayer, Corteva, Cargill among companies under investigation by Canadian regulators

The Canadian Competition Bureau said it was investigating certain agriculture companies for alleged anticompetitive practices, Reuters reports. The companies have been accused of trying to block an online farm-supply startup from doing business in Western Canada. The regulator refrained from providing details on specific companies involved in the probe, but court documents show Bayer, Corteva and BASF were among those that were being investigated following a complaint from California-based online retailer Farmers Business Network. Farm supply wholesalers, including Cargill and Univar Solutions, are also being probed, the court documents show. Founded in 2014, Farmers Business Network is developing an online marketplace that allows farmers to order crop inputs like pesticides, seed and other agricultural supplies. It’s been selling in the United States since 2016 and entered Canada in late 2017.

Merck launches cattle pneumonia vaccine

Merck announced the launch of Nasalgen 3, a three-way intranasal vaccine that protects beef and dairy cattle from the most common pneumonia-causing viral pathogens, according to the company. The vaccine has a six and a half month duration of immunity against bovine rhinotracheitis, an 11-week duration of immunity against bovine respiratory syncytial virus, and a three-month duration against parainfluenza 3. “Nasalgen 3 mimics natural exposure to the most common pneumonia viruses,” said Scott Nordstrom, associate director of ruminant life cycle management at Merck. “The intranasal administration of Nasalgen 3 stimulates a strong, early immune response because the vaccine antigens are delivered to mucosal surfaces in the nose—an area loaded with immunologically active tissues.”

Neogen launches updated Angus DNA test

Neogen and Angus Genetics have launched an updated version of Angus GS, a DNA test designed for producers to breed for ideal traits in their Angus cattle. The updates include the addition of 25,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms to the existing profile. These include SNPs discovered in sequenced animals that have never been part of any commercial genotyping array, according to the announcement. Federal researchers recently identified a number of SNPs associated with bovine congestive heart failure in their study population. Those researchers worked with Neogen and Angus Genetics to incorporate the markers into the updated Angus GS.

USDA issues final tranche of 2019 trade aid payments

Farmers should begin receiving payments in the final round of federal trade aid, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Trump administration announced it will issue the third round of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments, which were issued to farmers to mitigate negative effects of trade disputes. The program allocated $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers, with additional funding going toward other purposes, like buying surplus commodities. Full details of what producers can expect for the final payments is available in the announcement from USDA.

U.N. will hold conference to address African swine fever

Calling outbreaks of African swine fever an “unprecedented global threat,” the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has announced a two-day conference in April to address the disease, Feed Strategy reports. The conference will focus on drafting a political declaration with calls to action for governments, industry and academia, as well as reviewing recent advances in mitigating ASF, according to Andriy Rozstalnyy, a senior animal health officer at the FAO. Rozstalnyy said ASF presents both an economic threat and a food security threat. “It has a spillover effect on prices and the availability of other types of food—meat products and feed production like soya—because it’s interlinked in the food chain,” he said. The virus has spread to new areas in Indonesia and the Philippines, and Greece has also now seen its first case.

Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies up 20% in 2019, data shows

While it’s well below historical highs, the number of chapter 12 family farm bankruptcies filed in 2019 increased almost 20% from the previous year, according to new data from the U.S. court system. During the 2019 calendar year, there were 595 chapter 12 family farm bankruptcies, up nearly 100 filings from 2018 and the highest level since 2011, when 637 bankruptcies were filed, Feedstuffs reports. Compared with figures from the past decade, the 20% increase trails only 2010, the year following the Great Recession, when chapter 12 bankruptcies rose 33%, American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist John Newton said in a recent report. “The continued increase in Chapter 12 filings was not unanticipated, given the multi-year downturn in the farm economy, record farm debt, headwinds on the trade front and recent changes to the bankruptcy rules in 2019’s Family Farmer Relief Act, which raised the debt ceiling to $10 million,” Newton wrote.