Ag Today April 28, 2020

Getting answers: Are we at risk of a break in the food supply chain? [KOVR TV, Sacramento]

With several national meat processing plants, including Tyson Foods, shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic, there’s new concern about a break in the food supply chain. “You just have to keep a cool head about it, we are not going to starve,” said David Dewey, President of the California Association of Meat Processors. … “If it’s a national processor, what are the regional steps that we can take and turn to in terms of getting that food supply from the farm to the consumer?” Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, said. He says with the closure of plants across the country, area farmers are now stepping up to the plate to provide for local grocery stores, farmers markets, and ultimately consumers, which could mean a boom in business for them.


Piglets aborted, chickens gassed as pandemic slams meat sector [Reuters]

With the pandemic hobbling the meat-packing industry, Iowa farmer Al Van Beek had nowhere to ship his full-grown pigs to make room for the 7,500 piglets he expected from his breeding operation. … Van Beek and other farmers say they have no choice but to cull livestock as they run short on space to house their animals or money to feed them, or both. … Millions of pigs, chickens and cattle will be euthanized because of slaughterhouse closures, limiting supplies at grocers, said John Tyson, chairman of top U.S. meat supplier Tyson Foods.


Monterey County calls for more action to protect farm workers from COVID-19 [KRON TV, San Francisco]

As COVID-19 has swept through the meat-packing industry, creating supply-chain problems, there are worries about something similar happening in California’s farm economy. …  Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo says prioritizing protections for farm workers, among those who are at highest risk for contracting COVID-19, will help protect the economy and keep food on America’s table. … Voluntary protocols, such as social distancing, the wearing of masks and making sure people are not coming to work sick are helping, but Supervisor Alejo says they should be made mandatory.


Cheese off a truck: Farmers try to salvage food, and some sales [Wall Street Journal]

… Several weeks on, companies and farmers are devising increasingly extreme methods to make use of their foodstuffs. … The efforts address a tiny portion of the food that is being wasted along a supply chain that has proved too rigid to adapt to the ways the pandemic has scrambled demand. … Food safety laws in Europe and the U.S. make it harder than in China for farmers and suppliers to switch some food meant for restaurants to retail customers. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently relaxed some labeling rules and other requirements for companies trying to make that switch, said Robert G. Hibbert, a partner at Morgan Lewis who advises clients in food and agriculture.


People are buying more avocados and less bacon as coronavirus shifts eating patterns [Bloomberg]

The coronavirus outbreak has transformed the way the world eats. There is no trend, exactly, other than this: People want comfort. They also want to eat their way to stronger immune systems.  … Some of these trends could be here to stay, experts say. Now that some people have gone back to packaged foods, they may be surprised to see the quality improvements for these products and keep buying them even in the post-quarantine world. Cooking more at home might also continue well after the stay-at-home orders end.


Pork producers lose challenge to California’s farm animal confinement initiative [Courthouse News Service]

Pork producers’ challenge to a voter-approved law requiring pigs raised for consumption and sold in California to have space to move around before they are slaughtered was struck down by a federal judge Monday. U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan, dismissed without prejudice the lawsuit by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, finding the farm trade groups failed to allege Proposition 12 violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. … The groups claimed Proposition 12, approved by state voters in 2018 and set to go into effect Dec. 31, violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution by regulating extraterritorially, or inflicting burdens on interstate commerce.


Animal group threatens to sue county over program that kills wildlife [Eureka Times-Standard]

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is set to discuss on Tuesday the threat of a lawsuit against the county by the Animal Legal Defense Fund over the killing of animals through the county’s Wildlife Services program. The lawsuit alleges the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Endangered Species Act as well as violated the public’s trust through a program aimed at killing “nuisance” animals. The Wildlife Services program is run by the county with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has been operating in Humboldt County since 1923.