Pork

Amy Mayer / File/Harvest Public Media

The largest meat processor in the world stands on the verge of starting up its plants after getting shut down over the Memorial Day weekend by hackers chasing ransom.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Pork producers in the Midwest had great hope for 2020, in part because China was still rebuilding its swine herd after a devastating African swine fever outbreak. Still, the Sino-American trade war had barely cooled as the Phase 1 deal was signed early in the year, suggesting over-reliance on China could backfire.

 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

First restaurants and school cafeterias closed, then COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-packing plants slowed processing. In the spring, shoppers started seeing signs declaring limits on the amount of fresh meat they could buy in one trip. Prices for some products crept up. 

Christina Stella / Harvest Public Media

Nebraska’s largest COVID-19 hotspots are meatpacking areas with deep immigrant roots. But many workers feel they can’t speak out about ongoing concerns with working conditions. Instead, the families of workers have organized, alleging many plants still aren’t socially distancing workers and don’t have enough PPE.

Amy mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

People are eating a lot of meat, both in the U.S. and around the world, and that could be good news for the cattle sector in 2020. Things are looking up for pork, too.

Lee Schulz, a livestock economist at Iowa State University, says there’s typically a 9 to 14 year cycle for beef production. At the current point in that cycle, heading into year six, he says the number of cattle should be leveling-off, which would mean farmers and ranchers would get lower prices for their beef.

For the first time in half a century, the U.S. government just revised the way that it inspects pork slaughterhouses. The change has been long in coming. It's been debated, and even tried out at pilot plants, for the past 20 years. It gives pork companies themselves a bigger role in the inspection process. Critics call it privatization.

JBS Accounts For A Quarter Of Pork Bought By The Federal Government To Offset Trade Losses

Jul 10, 2019
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A Brazilian-owned meat processing company undercut its competition by more than $1 per pound to win nearly $78 million in pork contracts through a federal program launched to help American farmers offset the impact from an ongoing trade war.

As a result, JBS USA has won more than 26 percent of the $300 million the USDA has allocated to pork so far — more than any other company, according to an analysis of bid awards by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Fears of a highly contagious and deadly pig disease have prompted officials to cancel the World Pork Expo in Iowa this June.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In January 2018, a handful of farmers at a major Iowa pork industry gathering attended a session on the threat of foreign animal diseases. A year later, several dozen people showed up, spurred by the march of African swine fever across China.

“This risk of African swine fever is real,” veterinarian Craig Rowles told the crowd at the Iowa Pork Congress. “And as producers, we need to be very cognizant of that.”

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

After a year that saw persistently low prices for many agricultural products — exacerbated by the retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. goods — farmers are eager for a recovery in 2019.

Pork producers have been working within the trade-war parameters since China imposed a hefty tariff in April. Northeast Iowa pig farmer Al Wulfkuhle said the sudden drop in Chinese demand for U.S. pork turned what had started as a promising year into a challenging one.

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