Weekly livestock news: September 11, 2023

Pork industry grapples with shifting regulations

Retailers in California and pig farmers and processors thousands of miles away are bracing for the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of certain pork products made from pigs raised in small gestation pens. The pork industry has been thrown into upheaval as pig farmers in the Midwest, major pork processors and California businesses have reacted to the changing legal and regulatory landscape in recent months, and further confusion could come if Congress passes pending legislation that would effectively nullify the California act, The New York Times reports. Already, farmers are facing hog prices that have been depressed since the fall while feed costs have remained high, leading to average losses of $30 to $50 a hog for much of this year in Iowa, according to estimated livestock returns from Iowa State University.

African swine fever detected in Sweden for the first time

A dead wild boar in Sweden has tested positive for African swine fever, the first such case in the country, according to Sweden’s Veterinary Institute. Seven dead boars were found in Fagersta, about 124 miles north of Stockholm, and more tests are being conducted, the Veterinary Institute said. “At present, we do not know how the infection got in, but it is a long jump from the nearest infected area in Europe, and we therefore assume that it has happened through humans and not wild boar,” it said. While the virus doesn’t affect humans or other animals, it can be spread via pork or by carrying it on shoes, tools or vehicles, Reuters reports.

Timely rains relieve some pressure on Corn Belt crops

Bouts of rain in parts of the Midwest have alleviated the worst fears of drought-stricken corn crops and soybean crops, sending futures prices lower, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Corn Belt is dealing with another round of tough, dry conditions, but timely spurts of rainfall throughout the growing season have helped mitigate worries, according to surveys performed by scouts on the recent Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Following days of surveying fields through seven Corn Belt states, the trade publication projects a U.S. corn crop roughly 9% larger than the USDA’s figures for last year and a soybean crop 2.4% smaller.

Zoetis Foundation announces $2.6 million in grants for programs to serve veterinarians and livestock farmers

The Zoetis Foundation announced it will distribute $2.6 million during its second round of 2023 grants, supporting six initiatives for livestock farmers and veterinary professionals. Recipients include the American Association of Swine Veterinarians Foundation, the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the Australian Veterinary Association, Vetlife and The Nature Conservancy.

For farmers, cybersecurity is vital

Agriculture has seen an increase in online threats. Environment.co editor-in-chief Jane Marsh discusses why the sector has become a target and how the industry can defend itself. “One of the reasons agriculture has become a target for cyberattacks is due to the vital part it plays in the economy,” Marsh writes. “Farmers could be inclined to make desperate choices to get their businesses up and running again if they fall victim to ransomware attacks.” Many farms haven’t taken measures to protect themselves, making them easy targets. To protect themselves, Marsh says, farms should have a dedicated contingency plan, implement network segmentation, protect login information, take measures against phishing attacks and install antivirus software. Global Ag Tech Initiative reports.

France seeks to ban meat names for plant-based food

A new proposal by France’s government aims to ban meat names for plant-based food made in the country as it seeks to avoid misleading claims of some meat alternatives, Reuters reports. The first country in the European Union to attempt to impose such a restriction, France tried to pass a similar measure last year, but it was suspended by the country’s highest administrative court. The global plant-based protein industry often uses references to meat products, fueling anger among livestock farmers and meat processors in France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer. The new draft decree bans a list of 21 meat names to describe plant protein-based products, including steak, spare ribs and ham. However, over 120 meat-associated names, such as cooked ham, poultry, sausage and bacon, will still be authorized, provided the products do not exceed a certain amount of plant proteins.