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What is today’s news? | Tuesday, March 29, 2022

In today’s roundup, get caught up on the latest news of the challenge to Proposition 12, the bill to increase transparency in cattle market, and the continued spread of avian influenza.

Proposition 12

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear pork producers’ legal challenge of a California law that restricts the sale of pork in that state.

The lawsuit, filed by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, attempts to nullify California’s voter-approved ballot measure dealing with hog confinement.

Terry Wolters, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said Prop 12 “sets arbitrary animal housing standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis and that will only inflict economic harm on U.S. hog farmers and consumers.”

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Livestock

Meatpackers would be required to buy a portion of their slaughter cattle on the spot market or risk a $90,000 fine under legislation outlined by four senators on Monday. The bill, intended to increase market transparency, also would create a contract library that discloses the terms the packers offer for cattle, so producers would know if a fair price is being offered.

The revised bill calls for USDA to divide the country into between five and seven regions, with packers mandated to buy a specified minimum number of fed cattle in each region through mechanisms that include cash, purchases at stockyards, so-called negotiated grid and “trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids.”

There are currently several USDA grant opportunities available to strengthen local meat supply chains. Nearly $20 million in total funding has been allocated for the 2022 Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG).

Many farmers selling direct-to-consumer, including livestock farmers, are eligible to apply for VAPG. Applications will be accepted by USDA’s Rural Development program online until April 25, 2022, or via mail until May 2, 2022. The maximum grant award is $250,000, which must be matched by the farmer. A reduced cost-share match requirement of 10% of the grant amount is available for a portion of the funds.

Avian Influenza

The number of commercial and backyard detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Iowa this year is less than a 10th of the nation’s total, yet the state accounts for about 43% of the total birds affected, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. That’s because Iowa’s infected flocks have been much larger than those of other states.

With the latest cases confirmed on Tuesday, March 29, a total of over 17.1 million birds have been affected by avian influenza.

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