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Food Safety Supply Chain

It’s not the food supply chain that’s breaking, it’s the meat supply chain

Supply lines across the food industry have been impacted by the coronavirus. Shuttered restaurants, university dining halls, workplace food providers, and more have all strained the food supply chain. In particular, the meat industry has suffered the hardest hit. In addition to closures of many of its largest purchasers, COVID-19 outbreaks inside meatpacking facilities have forced largest meat processing plants to shut down. The cold, damp conditions and crowded workstations in meatpacking plants make infectious diseases particularly hard to control.

On April 26, Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat processor, closed at least six major plants. Similar covid-19 outbreaks were reported at Danish Crown A/S, a huge pork producer; Goikoa, of Spain; Sanderson Farms Inc., America’s third-largest poultry producer, and Cargill’s High River slaughterhouse outside Calgary. The whole situation is an incontrovertible nightmare. But the pandemic is an opportunity to ask more probing questions about the nature of our system of animal agriculture.

Since COVID-19 began, we’ve seen plant-based product sales growth exceed that of animal-based products, both in meat and dairy categories. In the United States, sales of vegan meat jumped by a staggering 280% and sales of oat milk jumped by 477% in the second week of March compared to the same period last year, as the country became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. This meat crisis has become a big opportunity for plant-based protein companies that have developed healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional animal products.

Choosing a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for the environment as plant-based diets are kind to the earth and kind to animals. As is the case with plant-based meat, plant-based dairy supply chains are much better poised to respond in real-time to changing market conditions and are not vulnerable to the type of disruptions inherent in industrial animal agriculture.

Categories
Agriculture Fisheries

‘Survive, reboot, and grow,’ is the ‘new normal’

Amid the challenges in global food systems due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippines, is ready to take on the challenge of the ‘new normal’ facing the country’s agriculture and fishery sector. It is imperative for the government to rethink and restructure its policies and practices to prevent from being overwhelmed by future crisis. DA is considering a three-pronged strategy to bring agriculture back to normalcy.

  1. We must simply surpass this global crisis.
  2. We must reboot and reform our agricultural policies, and refocus our priorities to minimize the adverse effects.
  3. The agriculture and fishery sector must grow, by attracting more investments and resources, and partnering with the private sector.

Together, we will survive, reboot, and grow toward a food-secured nation.

Read more at Philippine Information Agency

Categories
Food Security

Drug-resistant diseases that jump from plants to humans

The current coronavirus pandemic shows how unprepared humans are in fighting pathogens that originate in wildlife and jump to humans. Human immune systems are equally unprepared for drug-resistant diseases that jump from plants to humans. Drug-resistant fungal diseases are emerging as a major health threat, including Candida auris—a highly infectious fungus. Fungi are continually mutating, and with a very short life cycle measured in days or weeks, they mutate quickly. 

One theory for Candida auris emergence is that the overuse of fungicides killed off all of its competitors, causing C. auris to undergo explosive growth.

The current pandemic offers a clear message that we must be better in mitigating the risks associated with infections. One of the solutions in plants, could be gene editing, that can play a vital role in preventing pathogens from developing the drug resistance. Advances in genetics have given us an understanding of nature’s gene editing process in plants, helping us develop resistance to a disease.

Read more at ScientificAmerican

Categories
Trade

European Commission warns against shift towards protectionism in agri-food sector

Uncertainty about food availability sparked a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market. Countries across the EU are increasingly considering protectionist measures, promoting national agri-food products and discouraging imported products. There has been a sequel of instances across the EU, particularly in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Austria, Greece, where concerned ministers urged either to increase consumption of local products or to stop the import and sale of fruits and vegetables until locally grown supplies are exhausted.

That has prompted the European Commission to express concern about the effect this would have on the free movement of goods and services in the internal market, knowing the fact that no member state has the capacity to meet all its own needs for all products. The European Commission is “urgently addressing intra-EU export bans and restrictive measures by member states,” and could resort infringement proceedings against non-compliant member states.

Now is not the time for restrictions or putting in place trade barriers. Now is the time to protect the flow of food around the world.

Read more at Euractiv

Categories
Policy

European Commission announces exceptional measures to support the agri-food sector

The Commission is taking swift action and proposes additional exceptional measures to further support agricultural and food markets most affected. The package includes measures for private storage aid (PSA) in the dairy and meat sectors, the authorisation of self-organisation market measures by operators in hard hit sectors and flexibility in fruits and vegetables, wine and some other market support programmes.

Exceptional measures announced as a further response to the Coronavirus crisis include:

  1. Private storage aid: the Commission proposes to grant private storage aid for dairy (skimmed milk powder, butter, cheese) and meat (beef, sheep and goat meat) products. This measure will lead to a decrease of available supply on the market and rebalance the market on the long-term.
  2. Flexibility for market support programmes: the Commission will introduce flexibility in the implementation of market support programmes for wine, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, apiculture and the EU’s school scheme (milk, fruits and vegetables). This will allow the reorientation of funding priorities towards crisis management measures for all the sectors.
  3. Exceptional derogation from EU competition rules: applicable to the milk, flowers and potatoes sectors, the Commission will authorise the derogation from certain competition rules. For example, the milk sector will be allowed to collectively plan milk production and the flower and potatoes sector will be allowed to withdraw products from the market.

Such agreements and decisions would only be valid for a period of maximum six months. Consumer price movements will be monitored closely to avoid adverse effects.

Read more at European Commission

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Uncategorized

How Satellites Can Improve Decision-Making For Agricultural Investments

USDA information about crop supply and demand estimates is fundamental to both policy-makers and agricultural investors. Nevertheless, the current situation with markets and crops is changing faster than USDA report releases, especially with the uncertainty around coronavirus pandemics. The uncertainty caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 reinforces the need for reliable, precise, politically neutral, and promptly available data for investors.

Here’s where digital tools can come in handy.

Geospatial intelligence, supply-and-demand estimates, crop tours, experimental plots, direct contact with grain producers are among the most effective ways to gather much-needed data. Agricultural investing is entering in the ‘remote prediction’ era where the one with superior AI tools has the edge. This is where satellite technologies can close informational gaps – and do it faster than once a month.

Read more at Investing.com

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Uncategorized

Farmer forced to dump 17,000 gallons of milk

Farmers in North Carolina are dumping fresh milk they can’t sell during the coronavirus pandemic. Homeland Creamery supplies milk to restaurants and coffee shops. Many of those establishments are closed. There is a 65-percent decrease in total milk sales. Because there’s no one to buy milk in bulk, Bowman said he has no choice but dump it in a pasture down the road. Bowman said he’s dumped 17,000 gallons of fresh milk since the pandemic began. I would say probably about $160,000 if I had to put a dollar figure on it.

Dumping the milk is the worst. That’s the profit going down the drain.

In the meantime, to keep business afloat, Bowman opened up a drive-thru at his creamery, selling small quantities of milk, homemade ice-cream, and other items.

Read more at WBTV

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Uncategorized

The One Health Act: human health, animal health and the environment .

Human health, animal health, and the environment are all interconnected. There is a need for national framework that interconnects all of the federal agencies and departments to better prepare for, respond to and ultimately prevent the spread of diseases. The One Health Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture, in coordination with other specified agencies and departments including the Centers for Disease Control, State Department and Department of Commerce, to create a plan for addressing zoonotic disease outbreaks like coronaviruses.

This plan, called the One Health Framework, will outline how agencies share information and engage in fieldwork to help better prevent, prepare for and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks. Zoonotic diseases – or illnesses that spread between animals and humans – can be fatal. We cannot wait for another catastrophic disease such as the coronavirus to come about before taking unified action to prevent and address these illnesses

Read more at Successful Farming

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Uncategorized

Save more, spend less to be shoppers’ new mantra

Shoppers are likely to cut back sharply on discretionary spending after the lockdown, sacrificing outings to malls, restaurants, and salons to save up for immediate needs such as health and hygiene products. The online survey was conducted by Nielsen between 10 April and 14 April among 1,330 people in 23 cities. The findings indicate that the future is tilting toward home-cooked meals rather than eating out. Hygiene has become a big issue with increased awareness and is likely to remain the trend once the pandemic is over. Even if normalcy returns and the lockdown is relaxed, people will not be comfortable in crowded places, including airlines, restaurants, clubs, and metros. The importance of preventive healthcare will grow in consumer priorities because of the covid-19 pandemic. E-commerce has seen exponential growth and this will continue. However, after the coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing lockdown, kirana stores have made a comeback.

Read more at LiveMint

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Uncategorized

COVID-19 and the Capitalist Food System

As we discover our agricultural system is responsible for spreading the virus, we also realize how perilously dependent we all are on those very systems of food provision for survival. Both of these problems are caused by one problem: our food system as a whole is controlled by private, for-profit capitalists. It is the profit motive and competition that compels agricultural producers to brutally rationalize and homogenize nature in the form of the monoculture plantation or mono-species livestock operation. These not only provide perfect ecological systems for virus transmission, they also replace formerly biodiverse ecologies that tend to keep wild viruses at bay.

A possible alternative: Socialize the Food System

Rather than simply abandoning the agro-industrial supply chains we depend upon, we need to think about how those supply chains could be reconstructed if they weren’t controlled for profit. This means confronting the fact that the existing food system contains advantages we can’t fully abandon. Any socialist food system would need to find an equitable way to distribute this kind of labor throughout society.

Read more at Jacobin