Dairy goat producers weather COVID-19 storm

It is no secret that dairy cow markets have been impacted by COVID-19. The situation also has negatively affected the dairy goat world, but in a different way. While the pandemic may not have caused an immediate disruption for dairy goat producers like it did for dairy farmers, it will have serious long-term negative effects as the economy continues to suffer.

Most dairy goat farms use a different approach to marketing milk with processors compared to dairy farms, which has been working in their favor. Goat milk also has a longer storage life than cow’s milk in the form of frozen curd.

Goat dairy farms lock their milk prices in at the beginning of the year for 12 months at a time, with varying rates depending on the season. There are set prices for winter, spring, summer and autumn months. Dairy goats tend to dry up and lower production in winter — hence a higher price rate during those months and a lower rate for early summer months, when goats have higher milk production.

Wisconsin goat milk prices for 2020 sit around $35 per cwt, give or take $5 based on the season. Premiums and bonuses are also preset amounts for the year.

UK food standards group Red Tractor to bring in new chicken welfare labels

Red Tractor Assurance, a UK food standards organisation has introduced a new range of labels for chicken which will indicate how it has been produced.

It said the Enhanced Welfare labels will allow farmers to sell their products through the Red Tractor accreditation, whichever farming method they use.

The labels are intended to “simplify the experience of shoppers and diners,” the body added.

It said the new labels will offer a “one-stop solution” for people looking for specific production methods for food that is also grown or reared to safe, traceable high animal welfare and environmental standards.

LIVESTOCK-Lean hog futures end lower on U.S.-China trade worries

CHICAGO, June 1 (Reuters) – Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures fell Monday on worries that deteriorating relations between the United States and China, the world’s biggest pork importer, could inhibit U.S. pork sales to the Asian nation, traders said.

China told state-owned firms to halt purchases of soybeans and pork from the United States, two people familiar with the matter said, after Washington said it would eliminate special treatment for Hong Kong following China’s move to tighten security measures in the territory.

Such a halt would put China further behind in making good on its pledges under the “Phase 1” U.S.-China trade pact signed in January.

“China has already been backing off from pork purchases over the past three weeks,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Allendale Inc.

Weekly U.S. pork sales to China averaged more than 23,000 tonnes from early March through April, but net sales through the first three weeks of May were a net negative 417 tonnes, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Kolkata: Chicken, mutton rates hit all-time high on supply crunch

KOLKATA: Prices of chicken and mutton — the two principal sources of protein for non-vegetarians – have hit all-time highs in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan. Chicken rate, that has been on a roller-coaster ride since the lockdown began, touched Rs 250 on Monday and mutton sold at a phenomenal Rs 800 a kg. Retailers claimed the two will remain dear till the effects of the cyclone die down and supply normalises.

While the spiralling of mutton price has been blamed on back-to-back disasters – first the Covid-inflicted lockdown and then Amphan – the surge in chicken price is due to the death of a large number of birds in the storm, traders say.

“Our preliminary assessment is that 75 lakh mature birds were killed by the cyclone,” said Madan Mohan Maity, secretary of West Bengal Poultry Foundation.

While Beef Prices Rise at Stores, Cattle Prices Drop – Why?

USDA officials and federal prosecutors are probing the wide gap between what consumers pay for beef at the grocery store (the highest in decades) and the painfully low prices that livestock producers are paid for their cattle.

By the numbers: The average retail price for fresh beef in April was $6.22 per pound, or 26 cents higher per pound than the previous month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the average price for a steer at the end of April was less than $100 per hundred pounds. The five-year average for that same week was about $135 per hundred pounds, according to USDA’s weekly summary.

According to meatpackers, beef prices are up during the pandemic because processing plants have scaled back operations as workers fall ill, meaning less meat is making its way to grocery store shelves. The reduced capacity also means less demand for live cattle from farmers and ranchers, pushing livestock prices lower.

But farmers and lawmakers think there’s more afoot than simple supply-and-demand shifts in an industry that has been a focus of federal antitrust efforts for more than a century. One hundred years ago, the five largest meatpackers accounted for 82 percent of the beef market, before agreeing to antitrust measures. Today, four companies control about 85 percent of the market: Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Cargill.

“It’s evidence that something isn’t right in the industry,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). He’s one of 20 senators and nearly a dozen state attorneys general who have asked the Trump administration to take a closer look at the beef market.

USDA has been investigating potential price-fixing since last August, and the Justice Department is now reviewing the so-called Big Four beef processors, according to a person with knowledge of the probe.

A group of ranchers is also suing the four companies for allegedly colluding to depress cattle prices since 2015, a case that is pending in Minneapolis federal court. The four meatpackers did not respond to requests for comment on the federal probes.

Irish Beef Finishers Hit Hard by COVID-19 & Brexit Losses of €111M

Irish Farmer’s Association National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said Agriculture Minister Creed must secure a direct payment package to make up for the beef price losses for winter finishers on the back of the COVID-19 outbreak and Brexit inflicted market disturbances this spring.

He said the figures show winter finishers selling cattle have taken a battering on beef price in the order of €200 per head, compared to the pre-Brexit and pre-COVID-19 prices.

“Without a direct payment to make up for these price losses, many winter finishers will not survive after this spring, which has been financially horrendous,” he said.

Over the nine-week period from March 16th to May 17th, the figures show the COVID-19 related losses were €21.22m, or about €2.5m per week.

On top of this, finishers have incurred Brexit related price cuts and calculated from Jan 1st to May 17th. These amount to €89.8m, or about €4.5m per week.

New Zealand export meat prices fall back from recent highs

Export prices for meat, including lamb and beef, fell in the March 2020 quarter, from record levels at the end of 2019, New Zealand’s statistics department Stats NZ said on Tuesday, Trend reports citing Xinhua.

“The fall in export prices coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic in March 2020,” business prices delivery manager Geoff Wong said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 outbreak affected demand in export markets and disrupted supply chains, such as sea and air freight,” he said.

Export lamb and beef prices fell in the March 2020 quarter, down 10 percent and 5.8 percent respectively, retreating from record high levels experienced towards the end of 2019. Volumes and values for lamb and beef also fell in the quarter, statistics showed.

“This is consistent with a fall in domestic retail prices of some meat products, such as lamb chops, in March,” Wong said.

Antibiotic use remains unchanged in UK pig industry – AHDB

According to data collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB), antibiotic use in 2019 held at 110 mg/PCU. The data represent 95 percent of pigs slaughtered in the UK and equals usage in 2018, having fallen 60 percent in the three years prior.

Significantly, the use of highest priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIAs) has seen a further decrease, down from 0.06 mg/PCU in 2018 to at 0.04 mg/PCU last year. The use of Colistin represents only 0.002 mg/PCU, down from 0.004 mg/PCU.

AHDB’s acting Head of Animal Health & Welfare, Mandy Nevel, said: “The latest antibiotic usage data demonstrate the sustained efforts that pig producers and their vets are making to use antibiotics responsibly, despite challenges from disease.

“The holding pattern we are seeing at the moment is almost certainly due to a spike of swine dysentery cases in 2019. Swine dysentery is a bacterial disease and, while there are a number of actions that can prevent disease spread, treatment with antibiotics is sometimes both responsible and necessary to safeguard animal health and welfare.

Coronavirus-related disruptions in the beef supply chain have spurred changes. Will they last?

Eight Greeley JBS employees have died from COVID-19 and at least 300 have tested positive for the virus. Beef, poultry and pork processing plants nationwide have had outbreaks during the pandemic, due in part to the fact that employees work close to each other for several hours. Recent testing showed that 277 workers at a Long Prairie, Minn., beef plant had the coronavirus, the Star Tribune reported.

The result has been a backup at feedlots and lower prices for ranchers because of the growing number of cattle in the pipeline. On the other end of the supply chain, people are paying more for meat in the stores and can’t always find what they’re looking for. Grocery stores have put per-customer limits on some meat purchases.

Other results have been a huge surge in demand by both ranchers and consumers for the services of smaller processing plants around the state. The question that ranchers, processors and agriculture experts are asking is whether current concerns about the health and reliability of the beef supply will produce lasting changes.

“There’s been some awakening in the general public about some of the challenges of how the food product system currently works with its centralization and control by a very small group of large packers. There’s just a renewed interest in buying locally and regionally,” said Julie Sullivan.

China lifts ban on some Japanese beef imports amid meat shortages

China has lifted a ban on deboned beef from Japanese cows under 30 months old, the General Administration of Customs said in a notice, ending an almost two-decade long restriction on beef imports from the country.

The decision comes as China faces severe meat shortages after an outbreak of the African swine fever disease decimated the country’s massive pig herd, sending pork prices to record levels.