Report 3-31-20

Springtime in the Rockies.

Colorado State Veterinarian Keith Roehr is repeating the message of state and national food producers that the coronavirus and resulting COVID-19 illness are NOT food-borne. The Colorado Beef Council has said it has learned that some anti-meat advocates are pointing at beef and animal food products as part of the problem. But Roehr points out that scientists believe that indirect exposure through external packaging or through other means of transmission is unlikely to be an important factor in the transmission of the disease, because the disease spreads mainly by human to human contact and aerosol particles from coughs and sneezes, so we should follow what health professionals are saying, “prevent the spread of the disease by covering our coughs and sneezes!”

According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, U.S. meat and poultry production increased an estimated 10% during the week ending March 28, Over the past four weeks, combined production of beef, pork, chicken and turkey was up 8.5% compared to last year due to strong retail demand, and the resulting spike in profit margins for processors.

The demand for eggs has also spiked as home-bound consumers prepare more meals at home and do more baking both as an alternative to eating out, and to fill leisure time. Shoppers have also been stocking up on eggs well before the usual pre-Easter uptick. According to Politico Morning Agriculture, Vital Farms, the biggest supplier of naturally raised eggs, shipped 15 million eggs to 13,000 grocery stores in a week, which is 150% more than normal.

California Representative Josh Harder has asked the White House to add an agriculture representative to the coronavirus task force, who would monitor and mitigate the impacts of the virus on farmers, while developing policy solutions for the industry. Harder points out that agriculture is an essential industry that helps to keep food stores stocked during the pandemic and must be able to weather the economic fallout that has resulted from the crisis.

The two plus trillion dollar stimulus package passed by Congress last week includes funds for farmers markets, according to Fred Hoefner, senior strategic adviser at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. The group pointed to research estimating that those markets could lose1.3 billion dollars between March and May. According to USDA data, most of the farms supplying farmers markets around the country are small, and about a quarter of them are operated by new farmers.

Livestock producers are familiar with the coronavirus, because there are stains of the disease that affect livestock. However, it’s not the disease that is currently affecting humans across the world. According to Gregg Hanzlicek, director of the production animal field investigations unit at the Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, there is no evidence that livestock can transmit the disease to humans, and food products from livestock can’t carry COVID-19 disease to humans. The strain of coronavirus that is associated with calf neo-natal diarrhea, and another one that believed to be associated with a cattle respiratory disease don’t affect humans, and there is no indication that livestock can be carriers of the COVID-19 disease.

Winston Churchill wrote, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

Stay happy and healthy!

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