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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Kamala Harris rapidly picks up Democratic Support - including vast majority of state party leaders; National rent-cap proposal could benefit NY renters; Carter's adoption support: Empowering families, strengthening workplaces.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Utah feels impact of California's ban on gestation crates

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Tuesday, July 2, 2024   

Farm advocates claim price gouging on meat and poultry in California is spreading across the country, including Utah's pork industry, which garnered close to $122 million of personal income and $195 million of Gross National Product in 2023.

California passed a law banning the use of gestation crates for raising hogs and producers said it increased production costs across the board. The ag group Farm Action issued a report, which contended in addition to blaming the California law, corporate meat producers also continue to use supply-chain disruptions as an excuse to price-gouge.

Joe Maxwell, chief strategy officer for the group, offered as evidence a 20% hike in California pork prices.

"It's just a part of their doing business now," Maxwell asserted. "They find excuses in the markets to gouge that consumer. And one thing we want to be very clear on is that the consumer knows it's not the farmer. The farmer's getting squeezed just as much as is the consumer."

Total hog marketing in Utah has decreased in recent years, while the number of farms raising hogs has fluctuated. Ag experts blame increased demand but have also come under scrutiny for trying to meet demand by raising hogs in large confinements, which are known to cause environmental damage.

Farm Action, not long after the official end of the pandemic, asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate egg prices, which had tripled in some cases. The group researched U.S. Department of Agriculture data and said the numbers did not justify the price hike. Producers said other factors are driving up prices, including inflation and animal illness.

Maxwell argued corporate food producers have positioned themselves to have outsize control over the market.

"They've got that control over the farmer, not unlike oil companies have over oil fields," Maxwell asserted. "They now have that control because there are very few buyers of farmers' commodities, so they have that control over the farmer, the producer."

Utah hog farms account for less than 0.5% of the total U.S. hog inventory, yet an estimated $62 million of aggregate input costs are used in hog production in the Beehive State.


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