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capitol-d.c.Several national farm groups are urging the House of Representatives to act quickly to approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation after the Senate passed it late Friday.

In a statement released following the vote, American Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman said, “Congressional support is critical to breaking down trade barriers and completing ambitious new trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

National Pork Producers Council president Dr. Ron Prestage said TPA approval “is imperative for finalizing free trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs”. He said failure to pass TPA would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allowing other countries to write the rules for international trade.

Other statements of support for TPA passage came from the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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capitol_domeThe U.S. Senate has approved Trade Promotion Authority legislation on a bi-partisan vote of 62 to 37.  The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Several commodity organization leaders issued statements immediately following the vote. Here is a sampling of the reaction.

National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling:

“Thank you to the senators who voted in favor of Trade Promotion Authority. This legislation is critical to removing trade barriers, expanding our access to global markets, and ensuring farmers get the best possible trade agreements. America’s farmers and ranchers are counting on the House of Representatives to step up and pass this important legislation as soon as possible.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Philip Ellis:

“This vote by the Senate is a clear indication of the support that exists nationwide for future free trade agreements. The U.S. market is already one of the most open markets in the world, and to continue to grow demand for U.S. beef, we must continue to negotiate tariff elimination worldwide. I urge the House to follow the lead of the Senate and pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation.”

American Soybean Association president Wade Cowan:

“The Senate took the first step today to ensure that the success of American farmers in international markets can continue. For the past fifteen years, soybean farmers have been the leading ambassadors for American agriculture overseas, in large part due to the ability of USTR to craft agreements that maximize access for our products in markets around the world. Since 2007, however, our ability to maintain this role has been hampered by the absence of Trade Promotion Authority. In that time, despite valiant efforts by USTR, we haven’t been able to be as aggressive in crafting new agreements as our competitors in South America, which have caught up and, in some cases, eclipsed us.

“But today’s vote has changed that. We’re a step away from equipping our negotiators with the tools they need to fully represent the interests of American soybean farmers. We thank Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden for their persistence on this bill, and we look forward to Chairman Ryan’s efforts in the House. It is imperative that House members recognize the potential of trade agreements to contribute to the success of the American economy in general, and our farm economy in particular. We call on all members of the House to support TPA when it comes to the floor in June, and we look forward to getting back to business overseas.”

National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern:

“Trade promotion authority is crucial to concluding trade agreements that will open foreign markets to more U.S. dairy products,” said. “In the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in particular, having TPA in place is essential to increase pressure on Japan and Canada to extend their best offers.”

U.S. Dairy Export Council president Tom Suber:

“Knowing that a trade agreement will be considered by Congress under Trade Promotion Authority paves the way to press our negotiating partners to make their best offers on the most sensitive issues. Clearly, dairy exports fall into that category, and the U.S. needs all the tools it can muster to get the best possible deal.”

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack also issued a statement on the Senate’s passage of TPA:

“Today the Senate helped move America closer to securing responsible agreements that open markets for America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusiness and create jobs and improve wages across the country. Over 70 organizations representing America’s farmers and ranchers, and past secretaries of agriculture in both parties dating back to the Carter Administration all support trade promotion authority because export sales are vital for U.S. agriculture. Last year, agricultural exports totaled more than $150 billion and for many of our products, foreign markets represent half or more of total sales. Those exports supported approximately 1 million U.S. jobs last year. The economy is strengthened and better paying jobs are created in rural America and communities throughout the country by the additional economic activity that flows from expanded farm and food businesses.

“Standing still is not an option. Our farmers and ranchers face exorbitant tariffs and others barriers in important foreign markets, and if we do not act to maintain and gain market share in these places, our competitors will. U.S. agriculture’s interests are best served by ensuring America is at the table with strong negotiating authority.”

 

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The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to finally deliver a Renewable Fuels Standard by June 1st.  They are to announce the proposed standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016.  Renewable Fuels Association senior vice president Geoff Cooper says EPA and the White House have been very quiet on this so they have no idea what the numbers will be.

He says while the volume numbers are important, how EPA justifies them is just as important.  Last year the oil industry pushed the idea of using the “blend wall” as the basis saying they couldn’t use more than ten percent in the fuel supply so that is where the RFS should be for 2014.  Cooper says the renewable fuels industry pushed back on that one because the number would end-up being less than what Congress intended when they created the standard.  Ultimately EPA pulled that proposal back and has reworked the numbers.

Cooper says ethanol is still 40 cents less than gasoline at the wholesale level and as oil prices rise the advantage to the consumer will increase as well.

The proposal is to be delivered on June 1st, there will be a public comment period with the final standards to be published by November 30th.

Cooper talks about the RFS:

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Cash cheese nudged a little higher while everything else was a little lower in the dairy markets on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday.

For the week, cash cheese barrels are down a quarter-cent, blocks lost 3 cents, butter fell 8.25 cents and nonfat dry milk is a quarter-cent higher.  Class III futures for June lost a dime, July lost a nickel, August slipped 15 cents and November fell 12 cents from a week ago.

Monthly Cold Storage Report from USDA has 1.08 billion pounds of cheese in the nation’s warehouses at the end of April.  That is 1 percent more than at the end of March and 4 percent more than April of last year.  American-type cheese inventories are up 1 percent for the month but 1 percent below year-ago levels.

Butter in storage totaled 230.4 million pounds at the end of April up 25 percent from the end of March and 23 percent above a year ago.

Milk production is at-or-near spring peak just as schools are closing and the three-day-weekend hits.  Processors are anticipating some logistics challenges over the period as tankers and tanker drivers are in tight supply.

There were 9.8 billion pounds of milk delivered into the pooled Federal orders in April, nearly 6 percent less than delivered in April of 2014.  35 percent of the milk delivered in April went into Class I utilization, 16 percent was Class II, 32 percent went Class III and 18 percent was Class IV.  The weighted average statistical uniform price was $16.22 per hundredweight up 14 cents from March but $8.72 below April of last year.

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ChampionHill_2011 Ohio Cattlemen's Roundup 022 (5)A top official of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) says the U.S. needs to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement if it wants to remain competitive in the world market.

USMEF president and CEO Phil Seng says other countries are “stepping up their game” when it comes to meat exports.

“We better pass TPP because Japan has held ten different sessions with the Europeans.  They’re very aggressive and they’re going to continue to work at this,” Seng says. “(Also) Korea has EPA’s (Economic Partnership Agreements) with, for example, Australia, Canada and the European Union.  And China is going to conclude an EPA with Australia, which will lower their beef duty by about 50 percent.”

Officials say the TPP is on the verge of being finalized.  However, some countries are reportedly hesitant to finalize the deal until Congress passes Trade Promotion Authority.

AUDIO: Phil Seng–comments made during a conference call with ag reporters 5-21-15

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The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is applauding, what it calls “Walmart’s commitment to sustainable and responsible farming”.  NPPC spokesman Dave Warner says that’s something that America’s pork producers do every single day.

“The specific policy that Walmart is asking its suppliers to adopt, we align pretty well with most of those,” Warner says.

Especially on the antibiotics issue, although Warner acknowledges some disagreement on the issue of sow housing.

“As the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Swine Veterinarians found out, it’s not the housing system that insures the well-being of the animals, but the animal husbandry—that is the care that is given by the farmers and his or her workers to those animals,” he says.

But Warner says, for the most part, Walmart’s announcement is an affirmation of where the pork industry is already headed.

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Soybeans were lower on fund and speculative selling, with November closing at a new contract low. Soybean planting has been delayed in some areas by rain, with the next set of estimates out on Tuesday. Weekly export inspections are also delayed until Tuesday. Demand continues to be strong, but the supply is only getting larger. Soybean meal was mostly lower and bean oil was down. Thailand picked up 109,400 tons of U.S. soybean cake and meal for 2015/16 delivery.

Corn was lower on fund and speculative selling. Corn’s also waiting to see just how much got planted during what was a very wet week in parts of the region. Still, at 85% complete as of last week, corn planting has moved well in most areas and short term weather forecasts appear to be conducive for development. Trade volume was light ahead of the three day weekend. Ethanol futures were lower.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling, in addition to the mostly higher dollar. Wheat does have some commercial interest, but the overall fundamentals remain bearish. Export demand for U.S. wheat is slow and the world supply is ample. There are concerns about fungus and flooding though around the southern Plains. The market’s also watching dry conditions around parts of Russian wheat growing areas. Taiwan bought a total of 101,950 tons of U.S. wheat (59,600 tons hard red spring, 31,500 tons hard red winter, and 10,850 tons soft white) with delivery set for the 2015/16 marketing year. Algeria purchased 450,000 tons of milling wheat from France.

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Futures Markets copy
Jul. corn closed at $3.60, down 5 cents
Jul. soybeans closed at $9.24 and 1/4, down 14 and 1/4 cents
Jul. soybean meal closed at $304.20, up 10 cents
Jul. soybean oil closed at 31.64, down 61 points
Jul. wheat closed at $5.15 and 1/4, down 6 and 3/4 cents
Jun. live cattle closed at $152.12, down 25 cents
Jun. lean hogs closed at $83.72, down 5 cents
Jul. crude oil closed at $59.72, down $1.00
Jul. cotton closed at 63.30, down 43 points
Jul. rice closed at $9.43, down 18 and 1/2 cents
Jun. Class III milk closed at $16.47, down 12 cents
Jun. gold closed at $1,204.00, down 10 cents
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 18,232.02, down 53.72 points

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Cattle country was quiet with business done for the week, although it is possible there may be a little more cleanup trade in Nebraska. The kill totaled 109,000 head, 2,000 below last week, and 5,000 smaller than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were lower on light demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice beef was down 1.97 at 260.25, and select was 1.70 lower at 247.62.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 40 points higher to 25 lower. Mixed trade continued through the closing bell following the release of the cattle on feed report which failed to draw much attention to the market on Friday. Traders were in holiday mode and seemed willing to let things stand where they were without rocking the boat unit next week when more activity is seen in the market. June settled .25 lower at 152.12, and August was .20 lower at 150.70.

Feeder cattle ended the session 10 to 127 points higher. Gains developed in the feeder complex, but the support that would have been expected since the April cattle on feed report was far off the average pre-report estimates and also below the range seen through the market. Placements into feedlots were down 5%. August settled 1.27 higher at 219.00, and September was up 1.17 at 218.00.

Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri auctions this week totaled 27,563 head. Compared to last week, feeders sold steady to 5.00 higher. The supply was moderate with 450 to 650 pound calves making up a large percentage of the offerings. Several barns have annual yearling sales scheduled in the next few weeks which always consist of many load lots of high quality yearlings. The demand for feeder cattle was good. Grass is green and pastures are back to growing with the surplus of moisture available. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 626 pounds at 259.59. Heifers averaging 622 pounds brought 229.39.

Lean hogs settled 35 points higher to 35 lower. Trade activity in the hogs seemed to coast into the holiday weekend with very little activity developing in the complex despite strong losses in the cutout values. All summer contracts were lower with June down .05 at 83.72, and July was .12 lower at 83.72.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .68 lower at 78.72 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was down .97 at 78.17, and nationally the market was 1.03 lower at 77.18.

Pork carcass cutout value was down 1.47 at 85.58 FOB plant.

At this time, it sounds like the Saturday hog kill following Memorial Day will be relatively modest with no great effort by processors to make-up for lost time. Perhaps that’s a sign packers see live supplies really tightening over the next 30 days.

The weekly hog kill was estimated at 2,147,000 head, 19,000 more than the previous week, and 193,000 greater than last year.

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hogs in barnIn response to Walmart’s announcement of stricter guidelines around animal welfare and the use of antibiotics in farm animals, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) released the following statement:

“The National Pork Producers Council applauds Walmart’s commitment, announced today, to sustainable and responsible farming, which America’s pork producers make every day. By using antibiotics responsibly and providing humane and compassionate care for their animals, pork producers ensure animal health and well-being and a safe, wholesome food supply. Walmart’s recognition of that proves that America’s farmers, not extreme animal activist groups, should be setting food policy.” 

Brownfield discussed Walmart’s announcement with Dave Warner, NPPC director of communications.

AUDIO: Dave Warner

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A Brazilian consultant says the animal protein market is changing.  Dr. Osler Desourzart, CEO of Brazil based OD Consulting says pork currently accounts for 33 percent of the total demand for protein – and he expects that to increase.

So what does that mean for pork producers?  “Get ready to purchase more pork, guys,” he says.

Pork prices are currently below year ago numbers – and Desourzart says that’s typical as prices tend to fluctuate week-to-week.  “But in the long run, the prospects are increasingly positive,” he says.

He says even though prices are lower than last year, if producers are aggressively managing their farms – they should still be above break-even levels.

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FD_Toledo_HomePageFeatureThe next U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogues event is coming to Ohio.

Following last summer’s water crisis in Toledo, when 500,000 people were without water due to harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie, Food Dialogues – Toledo will feature a discussion on the challenges of balancing food production and water quality.

“Making sure that we understand and the consumers understand how committed agriculture is to clean water, at the same time we’re committed to producing food and those things have to be joined together, they have to be cohesive, there has to be collaboration in regulations, there has to be a clear view of how to solve some of the issues that can arise when food production and water quality cross paths, said Randy Krotz, CEO, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).

Krotz says to include as many people as possible in the discussion, Food Dialogues – Toledo will be streamed online.

“You can go and stream it from the Ohio Farm Bureau, or you can go to FOOD DIALOGUES dot COM, which is the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers website and it’s right there on our home page and you can watch the event right as it occurs,” Krotz said.

Food Dialogues – Toledo will be held Thursday, May 28th, beginning at 10 a.m. Links to the live stream are available here and here.

Audio: Randy Krotz, CEO, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance

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Farmers can compare custom rates with a new report from Michigan State University Extension. The annual Farm Machine Work Rate summary, created by the Farm Information Resource Management Extension team, is a guide for farmers to use when hiring custom operators.  The summary includes equipment, labor and fuel cost estimates.  Dennis Stein, Farm Business Management Extension Educator, says while the cost of equipment and labor continue to increase, the price of fuel is lower than last year.

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U.S. egg production during April 2015 was modestly higher than in April 2014, according to the USDA.

Production totaled 8.212 million eggs, including 7.114 billion table eggs and 1.098 billion hatching eggs. For the hatching eggs, 1.01 billion were for broilers and 87 million were egg-type.

The number of layers during April averaged 358 million head, down 1% from last year, and production per 100 layers averaged 2,291 eggs, up 1%. All layers on May 1st were reported at 354 million head, 2% under a year ago, and the rate of lay per day averaged nearly 76 eggs per 100 layers, unchanged on the year.

Egg-type chicks hatched were 49.6 million, a 9% increase, but domestic placements of egg-type pullets for future hatchery supplies were 219,000 head, a 10% decrease. Broiler-type chicks hatched were 773 million, 3% above a year ago, and breeders placed 7.09 million broiler-type pullets on feed for future hatchery supply flock, 6% more than in April 2014.

Egg production numbers for May are out June 22nd and could show a larger impact from Avian Influenza.

 

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Walmart announced May 22 a “new” position on animal welfare.  Perhaps the position is new to Walmart; it reflects business as usual for U.S. animal agriculture. In any case, I commend the company.  In addition, Walmart publicly stated this week its policy on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.  Again, nothing game-changing in the policy because it reflects what farmers and ranchers, in cooperation with FDA, are already doing.

The crux of the company’s animal welfare position is the so-called “five freedoms” – practices put on paper in Great Britain back in 1967 – referred to as the company’s “aspiration for animal welfare in our supply chain.”  It’s good to have goals; it’s even better to have already attained them.

The five freedoms include adequate food and water; appropriate shelter/resting area; protection from injury and disease; expression of “normal” behaviors, and no fear and no distress.  The company talks about seeking change in housing systems that “lack sufficient space, enrichment or socialization,” e.g. sow stalls, veal stalls and laying hen cages, as well as elimination of “painful procedures where avoidable,” e.g. tail docking, de-horning and castration.

I’d argue the five freedoms, as interpreted in the objective world, are standard operating procedure for farmers and ranchers because they reflect the basic ethics of those who choose animal husbandry as a lifestyle, a fact animal rightists and those in fear of the movement’s press machines choose to ignore.  U.S. farmers and ranchers long ago mastered the on-farm mixology of solid science, experience and ethics in husbanding their animals, so the concept of blending the three is not unique to the animal rights movement, to Walmart or other retailers which have made similar public relations pronouncements.

The use of stalls and cages is and will continue to be a legitimate debatable point, with a fundamental question that must be addressed: “At what point does allowing animals to demonstrate ‘natural behaviors,’ e.g. mounting, biting, goring, pecking, bullying, eating of newborns, etc., or that of Mother Nature, e.g. disease vectors, predation, human mischief, trump the ‘enrichment and socialization’ goal?”  The safety of farmers, ranchers and their employees also must be part of the conversations about animal housing.

As to the company’s stated policy on antibiotics, I commend Walmart for recognizing the proactive and collective actions of the animal agriculture industry.  While wading into the murky policy waters of animal agriculture’s use of antibiotics likely wasn’t necessary – and will allow the anti-aggies to throw Walmart’s name with impunity – the stated policy is, in fact, in line with industry actions.

The “new” policy wants producers to use antibiotics “responsibly,” and follow the “Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobial Use,” adopted by the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA).  The big box chain wants accurate recordkeeping, veterinary oversight and for producers to limit antimicrobial use to “animals that are ill or at risk.” Done times five, and all in cooperation with the federal government and the animal health industry.

Walmart’s announcement recognizes the evolving and industry-supported professional use of antimicrobials on farm.  National farm and ranch groups already subscribe to AVMA’s judicious use document, having worked with AVMA in the drafting process several years ago.  No antibiotics are to be used for growth promotion or feed efficiency, and all antibiotics used on farm must be used in consultation with the farm/ranch vet, the man or woman who writes a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), the vet’s order to use the drugs to only prevent or treat disease.

Walmart, welcome to our world.

 

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gestation stalls--ttuAnimal rights groups are applauding Walmart’s announcement of stricter farm animal welfare policies.

Leah Garces, USA director for the group Compassion in World Farming, says it marks “a historical tipping-point”.

“This is the largest retailer in the country and much of their merchandising is groceries.  So the impact of such a market leader in taking farmer animal welfare so seriously, it really can’t be overstated,” Garces says. “It will mark a radical change and a tipping point for farm animal welfare.”

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, calls Walmart’s announcement “game-changing progress” and says it “signals to agribusiness that the era of confining farm animals is ending”.

AUDIO: Leah Garces

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The U.S. red meat supply in cold storage at the end of April 2015 was up sharply from the end of April 2014.

That’s likely because of increased pork production, the relatively high price retail price of beef, and a wet, cool weather pattern in many areas delaying the start of grilling season. The total amount of red meat in cold storage on April 30th was 1.220 billion pounds, 20% larger than a year ago, with beef at 476.702 million pounds, up 18%, and pork at 699.606 million pounds, 20% higher.

Poultry stocks also surged due to increased production and weather. Poultry totaled 1.165 billion pounds, 21% above last year, with chicken at 765.517 million pounds, 31% larger, and turkey at 394.382 million pounds, up 5%.

The next set of cold storage numbers is out June 22nd.

 

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Cattle country was relatively quiet on Friday morning following light to moderate trade in the North on Thursday. Best early guesses are that around 10,000  to 12,000 head moved in Nebraska with a range of 251.00 to 253.00, mostly 252.00, the 253.00 was to a regional packer. A few head moved in Kansas at 159.50 to 163.00. It looks like the Southern business may be completed for the week, but the North should need to see more sales.

Boxed beef cutout values were significantly lower in the morning report with the choice down 1.42 at 260.80, and select was 1.32 lower at 248.00

Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri auctions this week totaled 27,563 head. Compared to last week, feeders sold steady to 5.00 higher. The supply was moderate with 450 to 650 pound calves making up a large percentage of the offerings. Several barns have annual yearling sales scheduled in the next few weeks which always consist of many load lots of high quality yearlings. The demand for feeder cattle was good. Grass is green and pastures are back to growing with the surplus of moisture available. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 626 pounds at 259.59. Heifers averaging 622 pounds brought 229.39.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade are down 1.84 at 77.56 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West is 3.62 lower at 75.52, and nationally the market is 1.73 lower at 76.48. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady from 73.00 to 74.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis are lightly tested from 53.00 to 60.00.

The pork carcass cutout value in the morning report was sharply lower, down 2.05 at 85.00 FOB plant.

The pork carcass value on Thursday jumped to its highest level since December 26, at $87.05. From Thursday to Thursday, the cut-out has advanced $2.68, powered largely by better belly demand.

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The USDA’s latest set of cattle on feed numbers reflects at least some expansion of the U.S. herd.

The total number of cattle on feed in the U.S. on May 1st was up 1% on the year at 10.640 million head and marketings during April were down 8% at 1.639 million head, the lowest for the month since the series of reports started. Both the total number of cattle on feed and marketings came close to what analysts were expecting.

However, placements were well below most estimates, 5% below a year ago at 1.548 million head, because of the tighter supply of cattle late last year and early this year. By weight, placements of cattle weighing less than 600 pounds were 320,000 head and 600 to 699 pound placements were 240,000 head, while 700 to 799 pound placements were 348,000 head and placements of cattle weighing more than 800 pounds were 640,000 head.

Other disappearances dropped 20% to 66,000 head.

 

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The Rembrandt egg facility in Renville has become the largest Minnesota farm infected by avian influenza.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed the positive test result last week and under the quarantine order, Rembrandt will be required to depopulate the entire site affecting 2 million chickens.

According to a news release, Rembrandt will temporarily lay off 39 full time employees beginning around June first because of the outbreak.

The company says it has every expectation that it will restart the operation, but is unable to predict the exact date on which this will occur.

Rembrandt had to destroy 5.5 million chickens at a farm in Iowa last month because of avian flu.

 

 

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