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Beef Industry Headlines You Might Have Missed

Summer just seems to be flying by, and if you’re like my family, you’re likely trying to squeeze every ounce of daylight out of each day. 

There’s haying to be done; fencing to do; waters to check; county and state fair season to prep for; and working and weaning calves is just around the corner. 

If you’re in production agriculture, there’s rarely time for the grass to grow around your feet, so if you’ve been putting in long days trying to get it all done, you might have missed some of the recent agricultural headlines that have been making the news.

Here’s a quick roundup to bring you up to speed on animal agricultural issues:

This summer, USDA invested $115 million to increase processing capacity for meat and poultry. The USDA awarded five grants totaling $38 million to independent processors in five states as part of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. Another $77 million was allocated to producers in 12 states through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program. 

Additionally, $800,000 will be used to award loans to small and medium-sized meat processors in my neck of the woods — South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. And $4.5 million has been earmarked to fund post-secondary education projects through the Meat and Poultry Processing Agriculture Workforce Training Program.

Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has also announced the Agriculture Competition Partnership, which they say will focus on anticompetitive market structures and practices within agriculture. 

By placing necessary resources where they are needed most and helping states identify and address anticompetitive and anti-consumer behavior, in partnership with federal authorities, through these cooperative agreements we can ensure a more robust and competitive agricultural sector,” USDA Secretary Vilsack says.

Yet, despite these measures to increase competition in the meat processing space and address the monopolies that exist in the packing industry, it is incredibly frustrating that the Biden Administration is ignoring the outcries of every major cattle organization in the country to halt the importation of Brazilian beef into the United States. 

A hearing earlier this summer in front of the Senate Finance Committee gave U.S. ranchers the opportunity to express their concerns, which ranged from Brazil’s illegal deforestation practices, to animal and food safety concerns, to the known bribery and corruption for expansion in the meat packing space in Brazil. 

Speaking on behalf of the United States Cattlemen’s Association, Montana rancher Leo McDonnell testified saying, “Brazil is a bad actor int he global marketplace.”

In other news, the latest reports coming from the USDA indicates an increase in feedlot placements, and a decline in the nation’s beef cow herd in the first half of the year.

According to the report, as of July 1, the beef cow inventory was 29.4 million head, which is down 2.6% from last year. This marks a five-year downturn in beef numbers for a decrease of 9.3% since 2018. 

Total cattle and calves, per the USDA, was 95.9 million head, also down 2.7% from last year. And although the report gave no indication that herd rebuilding is underway nationwide, I believe we are going to see an uptick in heifer development and retention in the second half of the year.

There are opportunities here if a producer is willing to take advantage of these decreasing numbers; however, rising input prices, increasing land rental and ownership rates, drought, and burdensome, costly regulations make this a challenging course. But that’s not new for the American cattleman and woman, of course.

Finally of note, the USDA has approved the first lab-grown meat to be sold to the public. UPSIDE Foods expressed its excitement over the news as it will roll out its cultivated chicken product in a San Francisco restaurant.

UPSIDE stated in press release, “The day has finally arrived! This historic, world-changing, moment brings our vision one giant bite closer to reality.”

Good, bad, or ugly — mull these headlines over while sitting in the tractor putting up hay, and let me know what you think. I can be reached at, and I would love to hear from you!



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