Weekly ag briefs: JBS targeted in cyber attack, dairy scholarship earned by a Coloradan and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
New corn rows

World’s largest meat processor hit by cyber attack

Livestock futures fell early this week after news broke over the Memorial Day weekend that JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, was the target of an organized cyber-security attack that suspended operation of plants in Australia, Canada and the U.S. In a statement, the company said “resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers.” It added it was not aware of any evidence that customers, suppliers or employee data had been compromised or misused. JBS accounts for almost a quarter of all U.S. beef processing capacity and nearly a fifth of pork capacity.

Livestock price reporting webinars offered online

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will host a series of three live educational webinars about USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting Program over three consecutive days in June. The free webinars, which will begin on Tuesday, June 8, and continue through Thursday, June 10, will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Central Time each day. The webinars are part of USDA’s ongoing outreach to the cattle industry, targeted at cattle producers, feeders and others in the U.S. beef supply chain who want a better understanding of LMR reports, which provide the entire supply chain with critical market intelligence on price trends, as well as supply and demand conditions. Speakers will include representatives from USDA Market News, an economist from Colorado State University and beef industry professionals.

Dairy scholarship awarded to Coloradan

Awna Hirsch of Eaton, Colorado, has received a $2,500 college scholarship from Dairy MAX. Scholarships are awarded based on a combination of scholastics, leadership and involvement in agriculture. Hirsch grew up on a dairy farm in Eaton and was involved in dairy judging and showing dairy cattle at state, national and international levels. She also developed advocacy skills through other 4-H, FFA, Weld Agricultural Leadership Ambassadors and Dairy MAX projects. Hirsch is studying animal science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Agritourism venues can apply for pandemic support

The Colorado Tourism Office is directing $2.4 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance to help the state’s tourism economy recover. As part of this effort, the Restart Destinations program will support up to 32 Colorado tourism destinations. Awarded destinations will receive a full-day recovery workshop to convene local tourism stakeholders; 75 hours of customized technical assistance; and $10,000 in Colorado Tourism Office marketing support (with no match required). Applications will be accepted through June 17.

Prairie chicken could get endangered listing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to move forward with listing the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act, alarming agricultural groups and legislators from the region. The lesser prairie chicken currently occupies a five-state range that includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado and faces a number of threats, including modification and fragmentation of habitat. The agency is requesting comments or information from the public, governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the proposed rule. Several U.S. senators blasted the agency for ignoring existing voluntary conservation efforts to increase lesser prairie chicken numbers.

Meat exports robust in early 2021

At a recent strategic planning conference, U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom said 2021 promises to be an outstanding year for red meat exports, but cautioned that the industry continues to face shipping delays and other logistical challenges. First quarter export results hit a record in March, but could have been better, he explained. "Port congestion, shortages of refrigerated containers, a shortage of chassis to move those containers, increasing freight rates and delays in ocean shipments continue to be a major constraint. Not only is this a constraint on shipments, the U.S. may run the risk of jeopardizing our longstanding reputation as a reliable global supplier of U.S. beef and pork," he said. USMEF is working to create greater awareness of the challenges among federal regulators and to propose solutions to improve the flow of outbound cargo, he said.

Poultry processor deploying more robots

The third-biggest U.S. chicken producer plans to test robots at a “big bird” processing plant in Texas, a first for the industry if successful, Bloomberg reports. The push by Sanderson Farms Inc. for more automation comes at a cost of $5 million a plant and could replace as many as 75 workers per facility, Chief Executive Officer Joe Sanderson said. The company already uses robots at three plants tasked with removing bones from small and medium sized birds for white meat. It now aims to do the same with chickens nine pounds or larger. Tightness in labor markets is keeping a lid on American meat output, said Sanderson, who tied much of the problem to enhanced unemployment benefits keeping some people out of the workforce.

Cattle feeder honorees to be recognized

Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inductees and award winners will be honored at a banquet on Aug. 9, preceding the NCBA convention in Nashville, Tenn. The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to honor the exceptional visionary men and women who have made lasting contributions to the cattle feeding industry. Inductees for 2021 are Johnny Trotter, president and CEO of Bar-G Feedyard in Hereford, Texas, and Steve Gabel, founder of Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colo. Gary C. Smith, visiting professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University (formerly with Colorado State) will receive the Industry Leadership Award. George Eckert with Green Plains Cattle Company in Garden City, Kan., and Gaspar Martinez with Harris Feeding Company in Coalinga, Calif., will receive the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award.

Compiled by Candace Krebs.