Weekly livestock news: November 22, 2021

Farmers lose export opportunities amid supply chain disruptions

The same port congestion and shortage of truck drivers that have caused disruptions for U.S. imports are also making it difficult for farmers to get their products out for export. Ships now take weeks, rather than days, to unload at ports, and in the rush to return to Asia to get more products, they often leave the United States with empty containers rather than wait for American farmers to fill them up, The New York Times reports. The National Milk Producers Federation estimates that shipping disruptions have cost the U.S. dairy industry nearly $1 billion in the first half of the year in higher shipping and inventory costs, lost export volume and price deterioration. About 20% of U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ output is sent abroad. U.S. farm exports have risen strongly this year, but exporters say they’re losing significant amounts of money due to supply chain problems. A survey by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, which represents exporters, found that 22% of foreign agriculture sales on average were being lost due to transportation challenges.

U.S. cattle groups ask USDA to suspend beef imports from Brazil over BSE concerns

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and R-CALF USA are urging the Biden administration to suspend beef imports from Brazil after the country delayed reporting cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, Feedstuffs reports. NCBA in a letter to USDA asked for a suspension of imports of fresh beef from Brazil until USDA conducts a thorough risk assessment and review of the processes that Brazil authorities use to detect disease. NCBA also wants USDA to review Brazil’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory system. According to reports published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Brazil took more than eight weeks to report two confirmed cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Brazil recently reported two cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, which can be caused by bovine spongiform encephalopathy spread by contaminated beef. Brazil officials said the cases were the “sporadic” kind and unrelated to beef consumption.

Smithfield will develop infectious disease preparedness plan after OSHA found its COVID protections insufficient

Smithfield, the largest U.S. pork processor, will develop a companywide infectious disease preparedness plan and pay a $13,494 penalty for failing to protect workers from the coronavirus at its South Dakota slaughter plant last year. The company closed the plant in Sioux Falls for 25 days during a COVID-19 outbreak that infected nearly 2,000 workers and killed four. In total, Smithfield reported 9,666 infections and 25 deaths at the company during the first year of the pandemic, according to a House subcommittee report. OSHA cited the company under its general duty clause for failing to protect workers after an inspection of the Sioux Falls plant in March 2020. Smithfield will assemble a team of company and independent experts to develop the preparedness plan, Successful Farming reports.

Japan confirms H5N8 strain as bird flu outbreaks rise around the world

Japan has confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu subtype at a poultry farm in the third outbreak of avian influenza in the country this winter, officials said. The outbreak was discovered at a farm with about 11,000 egg-laying chickens in Izumi City in Kagoshima prefecture in southwestern Japan. This comes as several outbreaks of severe bird flu in Europe and Asia have been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health recently, a sign the virus is spreading quickly again, according to Reuters. Epidemiologists are concerned by the increase in the number of people around the world getting infected with bird flu this year. China, for example, has reported 21 human infections with the H5N6 subtype of avian influenza this year to the World Health Organization, compared to only five last year, with six dead and many others critically ill.

Germany detects another farm case of African swine fever

Officials in Germany have confirmed another case of African swine fever in farm pigs in east Germany, Reuters reports. ASF was found in three farms in eastern Germany in July following an outbreak in wild animals, with more than 2,000 cases in wild boar in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony. China and other buyers banned imports of German pig meat in September 2020 after the first case of the disease was confirmed in wild animals. Farm cases will make it harder for Germany to get export bans lifted, analysts say.

JBS plans to invest $100 million in cultivated meat sector, including acquiring Spain-based BioTech

JBS has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Spain-based cultivated meat company BioTech Foods, part of a $100 million investment in the sector. Of that total, $41 million will be used for construction of a manufacturing plant in Spain to produce up to 1,000 tons of cultivated meat per year. Some of the capital will also be used to build a research and development center in Brazil focused on cell-cultured meat, according to AgFunderNews.