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How coronaviruses interfere with California meat plants

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How coronaviruses interfere with California meat plants

There is no shortage of demand for beef.

Prices have gone up. Wholesale stores limit how much each customer can buy. Last week, more than 1,000 Wendy restaurants ran out of hamburgers.

There is also no shortage of livestock intended for conversion to beef.

But prices for those animals have dropped. Sales decline. At the recent cattle auction in San Joaquin Valley, only a handful of buyers bothered to appear.

The problem is in the middle of this pipe: the crisis at the meat processing plant.

Feeder cattle are moved to the holding area of ​​the Overland Stock Yard auction house in Hanford. The cow will be held by holding a pen before the auction begins.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Employees in these factories work closely together, and thousands of people across the country have been infected with the new corona virus. At least 20 have died. When workers fall ill, factories reduce capacity or are temporarily shut down.
The reduced capacity of the plant means some beef cannot be processed, and that has made cold water on the market for livestock: Why pay dearly for animals if you might not be able to sell it later?

That’s a problem for California, the country’s fifth largest cattle producer. In a good year, commercial breeders can aim to earn more than $ 1 per pound for premium calves. Now, the expected price has dived 15% to 25%, said Mark Lacey, president of the California trading group Cattlemen’s Assn.

“We have experienced some major droughts, we have had bad market years, but this is not like anything I’ve ever seen,” said Megan Brown, a sixth generation cattle rancher and Brown Ranch manager in Plumas and Butte districts. “Even in family history, nothing compares to this.”

A hamburger journey from the farm to a long and winding plate.

Farmers who produce calves, such as Brown and his family, are at the beginning of the chain. Calves are usually raised with the mother to weigh 500 to 600 pounds. Then they are sold to a spreader – a breeder who will continue to grow cows by feeding them grass until they reach about 900 pounds.

Land Stock Page

At the Overland Stock Yard in Hanford, all-day auctions are conducted in sessions: one for selected feeder cattle, one online and one for cattle to be slaughtered.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Then the cattle go to the feedlot to be fattened before being sold for slaughter, slaughtered in meat processing plants and sold to wholesalers, supermarkets and restaurant chains.

The whole process – from agriculture to the fork – can be likened to an hourglass shape, said Dave Daley, administrator for Paul L. Byrne Memorial University of Agriculture at Cal State Chico. The processing plant is always the narrowest point; if one is turned off – especially a large one – it can back up the entire system.

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Factory traffic is always tight, “but now it’s really tight because of COVID-19,” he said. “We have livestock stock at the top end. We must solve it through narrow constriction. “

Feedlots have been severely blown away by bottlenecks. With a slowdown in the processing plant, feed yard operators are forced to keep cattle longer. That means more feed and maintenance costs.

A few months ago, the price of livestock was $ 1.19 per pound for cattle scheduled for delivery in May and June to a meat processing factory. Prices have since dropped to 92 cents per pound, said Jesse Larios, who operates two feed yards in Imperial County.

Larios said his cows are now worth less than what he paid for them. Not counting on what he had spent on food and other expenses, he said that he saw a loss of $ 365 per cow – and he had thousands of them.

Larios said he did not plan to buy any cattle next month. There is too much uncertainty in the market, especially because feeders usually buy cattle with the aim of selling them for slaughter six months to a year later.

Central Valley Meat Company

Some employees at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford tested positive for coronavirus. The factory operates five days a week, processing 1,500 cows per day.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“We are trying to learn and understand where this virus will be in that time frame,” said Larios, who – following in the footsteps of his father and three uncles – has worked in feedlots for 22 years. “Will the restaurant reopen in six to 12 months? Will they serve the same number of customers, or will they have social distance? We cannot buy animals with the same capacity if we are not sure what the production rate will be. “

When the feedlot operators stop buying, commercial farmers see cattle prices drop. Hard forced choices: Raising livestock for longer in the hope of a better market, spending additional costs on feeding animals while waiting? Or immediately sell at a loss?

Lacey, president of the trade group, did not have much choice. Dry weather earlier this year in the Lacey Livestock of his family in Mono and Inyo districts meant that less vegetation grew on the grassland where his cattle graze.

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During the 2014 drought, Lacey recalled, livestock prices were much higher, so farmers could rent pasture land in other states and move their livestock there.

“This time, that’s not the case,” said Lacey, who is the family business manager. “Price isn’t there.” He managed to move some of his cattle to the Midwest and sell others, taking more than he expected.

Cows are usually sold in several ways: in a private agreement between the seller and the buyer or at auction.

On a recent Thursday at the Overland Stock Yard in the city of Kings County, Hanford, the electric doors of a pen opened, and four calves flew to a large floor scale, stripped off from another part of the room. They were ushered around by a man with a long pole that ended in a red paddle, clicking.

When the cattle move in formation around the stable, Dustin Burkhart, auctioneer and co-manager of Overland Stock Yard, starts bidding. About 30 people sit on the indoor amphitheater – which has social distance – ready to bid. Many others watch online.

Finally, 21,000 head of cattle are sold on the online auction platform.

Jason Glenn, co-manager of Overland Stock Yard

Jason Glenn, co-manager of the Overland Stock Yard auction house, said: “We have never seen anything like it. Not after 9/11. Not after the last financial crisis. Never.”

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“That’s an incredible number,” said Jason Glenn, co-manager of the auction house, but there is a warning: The cows will not be ready for slaughter until 2021.

For cattle that are closer to slaughter, that is a different story. The auction house was vacated, with only seven buyers left. Only 85 cows ready for slaughter are displayed, compared to 300 to 400.

Prices fluctuate between 46 cents and 55 cents per pound.

“We have never seen anything like it,” Glenn said. “Not after 9/11. Not after the last financial crisis. Never.”

During the same week last year, the auction house processed around 670,000 cattle, he said. This year, the weekly number has dropped to 425,000.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak hit, prices were depressed because there were many cattle on the market. The pandemic created more turmoil, said Kate Miller, owner of IMB Cattle Co. in Arkansas, which has been marketing beef for 10 years.

Other meat producers also experienced difficulties.

When closing Corona-related restaurants cut demand for pork products, and when slaughterhouses were temporarily closed to slow the spread of COVID-19 among workers, some US pig farmers – faced with a declining market and no room to accommodate additional pigs – forced to choose to kill piglets.

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It is possible to slow the growth of livestock by pulling them from grain food and putting them on a breeding plan, Miller said, but that doesn’t work with pigs. And once a pig reaches about 325 pounds, it is too big to be processed in a factory.

Pigs also tend to be slaughtered at a much younger age than cows, which means pig farmers have less time to manage the ongoing crisis. Pigs can be ready for slaughter at the age of six months, when they weigh about 280 kilograms, according to the National Pork Board marketing program. In contrast, most cattle are between 18 and 24 months old, said Wade Lacque, co-owner and manager of the Orland Livestock Commission Yard in the Sacramento Valley.

Breeders and feeders strongly reject the idea of ​​killing cows, noting that it will be a huge financial loss because animals are very expensive to raise.

Auction at Overland Stock Yard

Dustin Burkhart, center, auctioneer and co-manager of Overland Stock Yard, auctioning cows to be slaughtered in front of very few buyers. A mounted steer head hangs behind the auction house.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

As an alternative to selling at auctions, Brown, the sixth generation farmer, decided to try to slaughter his animals and sell beef directly to those who wanted to eat it.

Recently, he advertised “sharing hamburgers” on social media for friends, family, and residents nearby. The customer pays directly through PayPal, and he sends a pound of ground meat to their homepage.

He got the beef slaughtered and processed it in the U.S. Department of Agriculture facility. small ones that don’t handle the volume of meat done by larger plants.

The profit margin is “a drop in the bucket” compared to what his family usually makes at auction, and it takes a lot of time and work to send a cow to be processed, he said. But it’s better than nothing, and he said he hopes it will lead to the continuation of sales in the future. After all, the agriculture-to-table movement has grown strong lately.

In the past, he had done a few cuts of beef but had only butchered a handful of older calves that were not suitable for auction, such as the smallest or the ones with bad eyes. This is the first year he has access to cream plants.

“I don’t always make a lot of money, but that is good intentions for the community,” Brown said.

Like many California cattle ranchers, the Brown family has been in the business for a long time, around 100 years. Two of their farms cover 4,000 hectares.

“It’s a lifestyle,” said Lacque of the Orland Livestock Commission Yard. “People enjoy ranching … being out in the open, in the hills. Riding their horses and with cattle. “

The manager of the third generation auction page said he could not count the number of phone calls he had received last month from the farmer asking for advice on what to do. He said he did not have solid guidelines because no one had ever been in this situation before, and it was not clear what would happen in the future.

Business is also difficult for him. The auction page makes money from sales commissions, and for the last month only sold around 30% to 40% of the normal volume of cattle.

“This will be a difficult year,” he said. As for its customers, “hopefully most of them will succeed and will still farm next year. I am sure some of them will not like that. “

Cattle in the Harris Feed Company

Livestock at Harris Feeding Co. in Coalinga, which covers more than 800 hectares and can raise up to 120,000 head of cattle at once.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Rust reports from Hanford, Calif., Dan Masunaga and Parvini from Los Angeles.

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Language policy in party election programs

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Language policy in party election programs

Opening the last week of the election campaign and having voted in advance, I decided to share the results of my reading of the electoral programs (or similar) of the main parties in relation to official languages ​​(Portuguese) and with official recognition (Portuguese Sign Language, LGP and Mirandese). I limited the analysis (but not the reading) to the four most voted parties in 2019: PS, PSD, BE, and PCP; I used “língua”, “português”, “gestual portuguesa” (LGP), “mirandês” and their synonyms as search expressions. The goal is to understand the importance that each side attaches to language(s) and language policy.

PCP Presents Electoral Commitmentwhere it shapes the 2022 elections and resumes Election program for 2019, of 114 pages. In this “language” appears five times, twice in support of “learning [gratuito] Portuguese as mother tongue among expatriate communities” and three in “Valuing the Portuguese language and culture”. LGP and Mirandese do not occur. The documents use the spelling standard of 1945 (as well as CDS-PP Electoral Commitment, 14 pages).

Not Election program 2022-2026, from the British Empire, on 203 pages, “language” occurs six times, which is associated with increased teaching and access to LGP, with immigrant communities (Portuguese and native languages, in bilingual education) and once with reference to the free teaching of Portuguese for second generation immigrants.

OUR Electoral program 2022 PSD, 165 pages, never mentioned Mirandese or LGP; the Portuguese language is mentioned seven times, and the document contains a theme called “Language”, which proclaims: “Portuguese is an expression of our collective identity and of Portugal’s presence on a global scale, as well as differences in the use of the Portuguese language. don’t impoverish it (…) The attempt at orthographic standardization offered no advantage in the face of a globalized world, so PSD advocates assessing the real impact of the new [??!!] spelling convention” [sic] (CDS-PP is strongly in favor of abolishing it, and I would like to see some of the studies evaluating its impact.) In another paragraph, starting with the words “Portugal can never neglect lusophony”. [sic], advocates “concrete efforts (…) to raise the status of Portuguese to an official language of the United Nations” (only PSD uses the term “lusophonia”). The remaining references refer to basic education and immigrant communities, as well as to Portuguese-speaking African countries.

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Not PS campaign program, 122 pages of compact text, the search expression “language” occurs 26 times. There is talk of LGP dissemination and interpretation in government services; “Mirandes” is not found. The role of the Portuguese language in establishing Portugal in the world is clearly appreciated through its internationalization in the context of strengthening the CPLP, namely in connection with the International Portuguese Language Institute, relations with UNESCO and OEI. , under the control of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture. The teaching of Portuguese as a native and non-native language (for emigrants and immigrants) is carried out at all levels of education. The text contains several concrete proposals for action.

Of course, much more can be said, and reading this text is not intended to devalue (rather, promote) the reading of election programs. The choice is up to everyone. Voting is free and voting is an act of citizenship.

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The Portuguese government plans to double spending on research and development

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The Portuguese government plans to double spending on research and development

The leaders want national R&D spending to be 3% of GDP by 2030.

The Portuguese government has agreed to nearly double the country’s spending on research and development by 2030, the EU’s long-term goal of 3% of GDP.

The December 29 resolution called for government spending on R&D to reach 1% of GDP by 2030, with the remaining 2% added to private spending.

In 2020, public and private spending on R&D was 0.66% and 0.96% of GDP, respectively, which means that public spending will more than halve and private spending will double.

With rising costs, the government has promised reforms and modernization of the R&D sector in Portugal. He said the resolution would support the promotion of a culture of innovation and science and help stimulate the restructuring of the knowledge-based economy.

Last year, Government says Portugal’s spending on research and development has increased five years in a row, reaching a record 3.3.2 billion by 2020. He said the growth was mainly driven by the business sector.

The EU as a whole has set a goal of spending 3% of its GDP on research and development, but for decades it has struggled for more than 2% to cover real costs. By 2020, R&D spending has decreased by $1 billion., but it increased to 2.3% of GDP as the economy contracted due to the government-19 epidemic.

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Former Portugal international Lima Pereira dies at 69

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Former Portugal international Lima Pereira dies at 69

Lima Pereira, the Portuguese international who distinguished himself in the 1980s with Porto, died this Saturday at the age of 69 after a long illness.

At one time he was one of the best Portuguese players in the central defender position. António José Lima Pereira was born in Povoa de Varzim on February 1, 1952. He graduated from Varzim and played there in the early years of his senior career. In 1978 he moved to Porto and his journey was very successful. His name is associated with some of the most brilliant moments in the history of the dragon emblem, such as winning the European Cup and Intercontinental Cup in 1987 and the European Super Cup in 1988. In 11 seasons (265 games), he also won 4 championships. , three national Supercups and 2 Portuguese Cups. He ended his career with Maya in 1991. “I knew how to exemplify the values ​​of Porto,” Pinto da Costa wrote in a social media post.

Lima Pereira, who represented the national team 20 times, suffered a stroke in 2006.

testimony
Jorge Amaral, former Porto player
“He personified the spirit of Porto and the North. He was a friend of his friends and had an enviable sense of humor. A loss he regrets.”

Octavio Machado, former player and coach of FC Porto
“A champion who celebrated all who had the honor of living with him. We already miss him.”

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