Weekly livestock news: September 5, 2022

Minnesota confirms its first bird flu cases in commercial flocks since May

Two cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed in Minnesota turkey flocks last week were the first to be reported in commercial poultry in the state since May, according to WattAgNet. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said the flocks were in Meeker County, near Minneapolis. While bird flu hadn’t been detected in commercial flocks recently, it continued to show up in wild birds in the Midwest, leading health officials to believe it would return to commercial birds. “While the timing of this detection is a bit sooner than we anticipated, we have been preparing for a resurgence of the avian influenza we dealt with this spring,” said Dr. Shauna Voss, a veterinarian on the animal health board. “HPAI is here, and biosecurity is the first line of defense to protect your birds.”

China suspends imports from Indiana Tyson Foods pork processing plant

China has suspended imports from an Indiana Tyson Foods pork processing plant, USDA announced. Neither USDA nor the company said why exports from the Tyson Fresh Meats plant had been halted. “We’re confident our products are safe and we’re hopeful consultations between the U.S. and Chinese governments will resolve this matter,” Tyson said in a statement. China has banned meat imports from processing plants in several countries in the past due to concerns of importing coronavirus, though experts agree the risk of spreading the virus on surfaces is low, Reuters reports.

USDA announces new funding to support small meat processors

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced an additional $21.9 million of funding for 111 grant projects through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program, bringing total funding to $54.6 million. The awards will fund projects in 37 states, with an aim to strengthen and develop new market opportunities for meat and poultry processors throughout the country. The new grants “will help meat and poultry processors make necessary facility improvements, expand their businesses and strengthen the nation’s food supply chain,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. USDA is also encouraging awardees and eligible participants in the department’s other meat and poultry supply chain initiatives to request assistance through the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program.

U.S. agriculture sector can reach net zero emissions ‘without sacrificing productivity,’ Vilsack says

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes it’s possible to get the U.S. agriculture sector to net zero carbon emissions “without sacrificing productivity. And I think we’ll see better farm income, and I think we’ll see more jobs in rural places,” he said at the Farm Progress Show. USDA is giving $1 billion to support climate-smart agriculture pilot projects. Initiatives receiving funding include an effort to quantify, monitor and verify carbon and greenhouse gas benefits associated with climate-smart agricultural practices for beef and bison. Vilsack said the combination of climate-related investments in the agriculture sector with infrastructure investments in broadband, roads, bridges and ports will give U.S. agriculture “a competitive edge in terms of getting product to export markets.” Feedstuffs has more.

University of Illinois’ Feed Technology Center gives students a chance to work in an automated feed mill

The University of Illinois is giving undergraduate students experience working in its automated feed mill, known as the Feed Technology Center. The $20 million, 12,000-square-foot feed center opened in March 2021 and produces research diets for the university. “A lot of the new generation, they’re excited about technology, gaming, modeling, but they don’t think about, ‘Oh, this can also be applied to other things,’” said Maria Regina Cattai de Godoy, associate professor and a fellow at the center. “One of our main goals is how we can make them excited and say, ‘Well, we can use that tech knowledge and actually make a difference in terms of providing food security, safety.’” The university recently created a hybrid bachelor of science degree, a combination of computer science and animal sciences. Feed Strategy reports.

State agriculture departments try to address workforce shortages

With a shortage of well-trained workers in the agriculture industry, state departments of agriculture have begun trying innovative solutions to build the workforce. In Oklahoma, state officials during the pandemic partnered with a career development organization to create an industry training program. “The Meat Processing Workforce Education program, featuring a mobile meat laboratory and the accompanying online courses, provides an exceptional opportunity for [Oklahoma’s] agriculture industry to add highly qualified individuals to the food processing workforce,” said Blayne Arthur, chair of the animal agriculture committee at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. In Iowa, a task force studied the feasibility of creating an artisanal butchery program at community colleges or Iowa State University to minimize barriers, including workforce shortages, for opening and expanding small meat processing facilities.