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Articles from 2020 In July


NPPC, AASV, SHIC raise concerns about APHIS reportable disease rule

National Pork Board Awards for Advancing Research in Respiratory Disease, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, has provided $1.2 million since 2002.

In May, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposed a new National List of Reportable Animal Diseases to further strengthen the country's ability to detect, respond to and control animal diseases. The list would provide a consolidated, comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure federal and state animal health officials quickly receive information about potential cases of communicable animal diseases, the agency explained.

In joint comments submitted to APHIS this week, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center say while they support the establishment of a NLRAD that consists of named animal diseases and conditions with established case definitions, a separate portal should be created to collect voluntary reports of suspicious animal health events.

"NPPC, AASV and SHIC concur with APHIS that under-reporting of notifiable animal diseases within the United States can have significant domestic and international ramifications. However, it must be acknowledged that false or premature reports can similarly have damaging consequences. For these reasons, animal health professionals, or indeed any individuals other than veterinarians, should not be obligated to report under the NLRAD when they are not credentialed to make a diagnosis of a specific animal disease," the groups write. 

The groups also note they can only support mandating state reporting of monitored animal diseases if both APHIS and states have the necessary resources to compile and transmit this information electronically, and if APHIS has the resources to analyze the information when making it publicly available.

Source: National Pork Producers Council, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
Coronavirus

Proposed COVID-19 package covers depopulated livestock and poultry

Getty Images News/Scott Olson Pen of market hogs

The Senate Republicans on Monday released their $1 trillion coronavirus relief package, the "Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act." The package includes another round of $1,200 in direct payments, additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, liability protection for businesses, schools and universities, and a reduction in the federal unemployment benefits from the current $600 per week to $200 per week for a 60-day period.

The proposal provides the USDA with an additional $20 billion in funding to support agricultural producers, growers and processors impacted by COVID-19. This is in addition to the $14 billion still available through the Commodity Credit Corp. from the last coronavirus aid package.

The eligible commodities include livestock, dairy, poultry, specialty crops and non-specialty crops. Producers of livestock and poultry "depopulated due to insufficient processing access" will be eligible for payments. In addition, growers who produced livestock and poultry "under a contract for another entity" will be eligible.

Renewable fuels are expected to be eligible under the provision supporting processors. However, it will be up to the USDA.

Concerns have been raised about giving the USDA open-ended authority on how to spend the money. Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and others have said Congress should give guidance and direction to the USDA on how the funds should be spent.

The bill does not include any increase in funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as contained in the House-passed bill. This is a priority of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and of hunger groups. Stabenow is proposing a 15% increase in the maximum SNAP benefit and raising the minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30. This is in the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act.

Since the release of the package there have been negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) with the White House. There are major differences between the two parties including how much aid is needed, unemployment insurance, aid to state and local governments, liability protection, and spending funds on a new Federal Bureau of Investigation building which is a priority of Trump. It is going to take some time before an agreement is reached.

Trump: 'China deal means less to me'
President Trump continues to increase his attacks on the way China has handled the coronavirus pandemic as cases and deaths increase in the United States and with polls showing the public does not approve of the way he has dealt with the crisis.

Last week during a press conference President Trump repeated his accusations that China allowed COVID-19 to enter the United States and as a result says, "the trade deal means less to me now than it did when I made it."

This increasingly strained relationship between the United States and China has dampened hopes of a round two trade agreement that the administration says was to take place and which U.S. agriculture and the business community were hoping for to address additional trade issues.

Even with increasingly difficult relationships, China has recently been buying significant amounts of corn with the purchase of another 1.937 million metric tons this week.

Safe line speeds
The "Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act" has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) which would stop the USDA from allowing increases in line speeds for meat and poultry packing plants and would end the New Swine Slaughter Inspection program. The legislation was introduced earlier in the House.

The legislation would:

  • "Suspend all active waivers issued by the USDA related to line speeds at meat and poultry establishments and suspend the USDA's authority to issue new waivers in this area;
  • Suspend implementation of and conversion to the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System established under the USDA's final rule published on Oct. 1, titled "Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection"; and
  • Prohibit the USDA from using federal funds to develop, propose, finalize, issue, amend or implement any policy, regulation, directive, constituent update or any other agency program that would increase line speeds at meat and poultry establishments."

House passes FY '21 ag appropriations
Last Friday, the House passed a $259.5 billion appropriations package that included agriculture by a vote of 224-189. An amendment was adopted that prohibits the USDA from using funds to implement President Trump's executive order which gives the USDA the authority to keep meat and poultry processing facilities open during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate is not expected to consider appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year. Thus, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution that will keep the federal government open until after the election.

New House ag committee members
Two new Republicans have been appointed to the House Agriculture Committee. They are Congressmen Chris Jacobs (R-NY) and Troy Balderson (R-OH).

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

FEEDSTUFFS PRECISION PORK Market Report – July 31

The COVID quarter, one of the worst quarters in global history, ends today and initial ideas are that second quarter GDP is estimated to have fallen by 32.9%, according to Provimi market analyst Dave Bauer. The U.S. also had the largest one-day sale of corn ever this past week to China at 1.9 metric tons, or approximately 76 million bushel. Pork exports sales this week were just under 40,000 metric tons, up 24% over last week and up 12% versus the four-week average. Of course, China led those purchases with 45% of the total, followed by Mexico, taking 40%. For the first time in a few weeks, actual shipments did slow down 12% versus last week and 3% below the prior four-week average, but still a strong number of 31,500 metric tons.

On the topic of slaughter plants, it was a tough start to the week. Mechanical and labor issues reduce the estimated kill by 22,000 head on Monday. But the rest of this week found its stride and the estimate for a 2.5 plus million head kill is again expected. Kill floors are maintaining a weekly run of roughly 93% of capacity, but now processing floors need to get out of the mid to upper 80% range and up to match the kill floor run rates. The challenge to get employees back to work are real and plants are doing all they can to create safe work environments.

And what's the word on forward profitability? Take a listen and find out.

These are uncertain times and it will pay dividends to be well-prepared. If you have questions on this week’s recap or want to discuss something not covered, feel free to ASK DAVE at David_Bauer@cargill.com. Plan today for tomorrow’s success.

Follow Feedstuffs Precision Pork on your favorite podcast platform or find it on www.Feedstuffs.com and www.NationalHogFarmer.comThese are uncertain times and it will pay dividends to be well-prepared. If you have questions on this week’s recap or want to discuss something not covered, feel free to ASK DAVE at David_Bauer@cargill.com. Plan today for tomorrow’s success.

Ask Dave_Revised.jpg

Follow Feedstuffs Precision Pork on your favorite podcast platform or find it on www.Feedstuffs.com and www.NationalHogFarmer.com

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Consumers are catching on to ground pork potential

National Pork Board nhf-npb-groundpork-ragu.jpg

In case you missed it, this past Wednesday was National Lasagna Day. No worries, I missed that one too, but the Spicy Pork Italian Sausage Lasagna Dish recipe the Wisconsin Pork Association shared on Facebook this week sure had me thinking of whipping one up soon.

I remember being in college, and just a newlywed, when I discovered the difference substituting pork sausage for hamburger could do to a lasagna. Back then we used to get a half of a hog for Christmas from my husband's parents and it always seemed like "our half" was mostly bacon and pork sausage. (No complaining here!)

Growing up, my family really only used ground pork for scrambled eggs (which probably had to do with the fact that my family candled eggs for a living) so 22-year-old me had to get creative in the kitchen.

Now I will only use ground pork in my lasagna or spaghetti sauce.

Since COVID-19 has upended consumer eating and cooking habits, it looks like more folks have caught on to the secret ingredient and are ditching ground beef for pork.

According to the National Pork Board's "Insight to Action," from March 1 through June 14, 45% of ground pork shoppers were people who had not purchased it in the year prior. Before the pandemic, ground pork sales had been flat in both dollars and pounds sold. The data from Numerator also found 80% of new buyers were very or extremely satisfied with their ground pork purchase, and 89% said they probably or definitely will buy ground pork again.

As the "Insight to Action" newsletter reminds retailers and packers, ground pork isn't just for Italian dishes. Ground pork also works well in many Asian and Hispanic dishes. I've found that out firsthand as ground pork has definitely made my chili and taco soup much more flavorful.

Ground pork is not just a substitute for other protein; it has a number of attributes that new consumers are discovering in 2020. It is flavorful, easy to use, versatile and freezes well to meet both current and future needs.

It's been more than 15 years since I started experimenting with ground pork, and I'm still finding new things I need to try, including the famous Iowa ham balls and Iowa Made-Rites. What are some of your favorite recipes using ground pork? What secret sauces or culinary tips or tricks using ground pork can we share with consumers to keep them coming back to ground pork in the meat case?

SHIC requests proposals for improved oral fluids PCR sensitivity

Collecting oral fluids from pigs in a pen

Recent unpublished, observational research indicates oral fluids, when collected by rope as an aggregate sample, could be a good sample for rapid detection of African swine fever virus. However this experimental data also suggests that there is potential for false negative testing results. Therefore, the Swine Health Information Center is calling for proposals to develop methods to improve the detection of low levels of nucleic acid in OF through enhancements to sample pre-extraction treatment(s) or through improved extraction methodologies compatible with the high throughput testing currently done in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratories.

With thousands of OF samples coming into diagnostic labs each month, the value of this type of testing for swine disease monitoring is irrefutable. The objective of this SHIC-funded research is to address concerns about OF testing sensitivity. Then, with this knowledge, the potential for an official option for ASF testing beyond whole blood, which is the antemortem sample presently proposed by USDA for surveillance, opens. Due to the urgency of preparing for ASF and other foreign animal disease testing protocols, SHIC will favor proposals reflecting this immediate need.

In a negative cohort study, no false positives for ASFV were reported. Experimental, unpublished, observational work indicated that ASFV may be detected in OF prior to onset of clinical signs even if only a small proportion of animals are infected. However, as the viral load, as measured by polymerase chain reaction cycle threshold comparison, was much lower in OF than individual tissue samples, the study indicated false negatives do occur. This limits the potential use of swine OF as an official monitoring and surveillance tool in the event of an ASF outbreak in the United States without further study and refinement.

OF samples are widely used in swine surveillance for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, influenza A virus, and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae nucleic acids on U.S. farms and have shown the potential for use in FAD surveillance, as well. To date, more than 27 pig pathogens have been shown to produce detectable levels of nucleic acid in OF. The proposed research could lead to increased sensitivity of PCR testing for domestic and FADs.

SHIC is currently sponsoring OF sensitivity research in Vietnam related to ASF as well. Building on those projects, it is hoped the research related to this new request for proposals will result in methods sensitive enough to support OF PCR diagnostic validation.

The following detailed points are included in SHIC's request for proposal.

  • The objective of the research is to identify sample treatments (for example centrifugation, nucleic acid concentration or other sample treatments) or extraction methods that improve the quantitative detection of PRRSV, IAV-S and MHP nucleic acids in swine oral fluids.
  • The research should include comparisons of the proposed sample treatments or extraction methods with the high throughput protocols currently in use in NAHLN veterinary diagnostic laboratories.
  • The proposal should include a clear description of the experimental design and statistical methods to be used in data analyses and provide for enough replicates and statistical power to be able to clearly show if the probability of detection multiplied by concentration differs among treatments or extraction methodologies for a particular PCR test.
  • Since research has shown that it is easier to recover nucleic acids from intentionally spiked samples than from samples collected from infected pigs, the experimental design should include OF samples collected from infected pigs. Proposals that leverage partnerships with pork producers and their veterinarians to use those samples from naturally infected pigs, i.e., control costs, will be prioritized.
  • With the importance of improving swine OF PCR sensitivity so it can be used with confidence as an official monitoring and surveillance tool, proposals with a timeline reflecting that urgency will also be prioritized.

The deadline for submitting an RFP to SHIC for this project is Aug. 25, at 5 p.m. CDT. For more information on the RFP process, contact SHIC Executive Director Paul Sundberg.

Source: Swine Health Information Center, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Farm Progress America, July 31, 2020

Max Armstrong reports on the news that USDA has opened public comments for final development of the new Dietary Guidelines. The development of the new nutrition guidelines are directed by a scientific committee has already seen 62,000 public comments. These guidelines help shape nutrition programs supported by USDA.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Image: Abehoidar/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Reduce crude protein to improve fecal consistency, intestine morphology

National Pork Board Feeder pigs

Reduced concentration of dietary crude protein in diets for weanling pigs limits the amounts of non-digested protein entering the hindgut of the pigs. Because the nitrogen from the undigested feed protein will be fermented in the hindgut it may create an environment in which pathogenic bacteria can proliferate, which may lead to diarrhea and reduced intestinal health.

It was, therefore, hypothesized that when feeding weaned pigs low crude protein diets, the frequency of diarrhea will be reduced and intestinal health will be improved, whereas the impact on growth performance will be negligible.

Corn-soybean meal based diets were used to formulate treatments diets containing 22, 19 or 16% crude protein. A Phase 1 diet was provided for the initial seven days post-weaning and the Phase 2 diet was fed during the following 21 days. The 22% and the 19% diets were formulated to meet the requirement for all indispensable amino acids in both phases and the difference between the two diets was that a greater concentration of crystalline AA and less soybean meal was included in the 19% diet compared with the 22% diet (Table 1).

University of IllinoisTable 1: Ingredient composition of Phase 1 and 2 experimental diets

However, in the 16% diet, the Phase 1 diet provided amino acids at 71% of the requirement, and the Phase 2 diet provided amino acids at 81% of the requirement. The limiting amino acid was phenylalanine in the Phase 1 diet and histidine in the Phase 2 diet.  

On the day of weaning 180 weaned pigs (approximately 20 days old; 5.5 ± 0.9 kilograms) were allotted to the three dietary treatments with five pigs per pen and 12 replicate pens per treatment. Individual pig body weight was recorded on the day of weaning and weekly thereafter. Daily feed provisions were recorded as well and at the end of each phase, average daily gain, average daily feed intake and average gain-to-feed ratio were calculated. Throughout the experiment, fecal scores were recorded for each pen every other day. One pig per pen was euthanized on Day 12 and samples of the jejunum and ileum were collected for morphology measurements.

Results demonstrated that there was a linear (P < 0.05) decrease in fecal score on Day 1 to 7, Day 8 to 14 and overall from Day 1 to 28, if crude protein in the diet was reduced (Table 2). These data demonstrate that as hypothesized, the incidence of diarrhea was reduced as dietary crude protein was reduced.

University of IllinoisTable 2: Fecal scores of nursery pigs on diets with high, medium and low levels of crude protein

However, there was also a tendency (P = 0.071) for a linear decrease in average daily gain and a linear (P < 0.05) decrease in the gain:feed ratio from Day 1 to 14 if dietary crude protein was reduced (Table 3). Likewise, from Day 14 to 28, there was a linear (P < 0.05) decrease in average daily gain and a quadratic (P < 0.05) decrease in G:F when dietary crude protein was reduced and this was also the case for the overall period from Day 1 to 28.

University of IllinoisTable 3: Growth performance of pigs consuming diets containing high, medium and low levels of crude protein

Likewise, final body weight of pigs was reduced (linear, P < 0.05) as dietary crude protein was reduced, but these negative effects of reducing dietary crude protein were mainly due to the 16% crude protein diets.

There was also a quadratic (P < 0.05) effect of dietary crude protein on villus height in the jejunum, and pigs consuming the 19% crude protein diet had the greatest villus height, indicating an increased surface area for nutrient absorption (Table 4). The same quadratic (P < 0.05) effect was observed for the villus height:crypt depth ratio in the jejunum.

University of IllinoisTable 4: Effects of dietary crude protein level on the morphology of the jejunum and ileum of nursery pigs

There was also a quadratic (P < 0.05) effect on crypt depth in the ileum, where pigs consuming the 19% crude protein diet had the shallowest crypt depth and pigs consuming the 22% crude protein diet had the greatest crypt depth. The increase in crypt depth that may result from consuming more soybean-meal (and increased crude protein) may also be associated with the increased fecal score that was observed.

In conclusion, feeding low crude protein diets reduce diarrhea in weanling pigs as indicated by the improved fecal scores obtained in this experiment. It also appears that reducing crude protein may have beneficial effects on intestinal health as indicated by the improved intestinal morphology.

However, under the conditions of the present experiment, these improvements were not big enough to offset negative effects of low protein diets on growth performance. It is, however, possible that if the low protein diets are fed for only two weeks post-weaning instead of four weeks, pigs will be able to compensate for the lower growth performance during the initial two weeks post-weaning before the end of the nursery period.

Sources: Joseph R. Limbach, Charmaine D. Espinosa and Hans H. Stein, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Agricultural Research Service launches site to recognize key research

vchal/iStock/GettyImages DNA manipulation

The USDA's Agricultural Research Service has launched the Scientific Discoveries 2020 website to highlight the national and international impact of ARS research on agriculture from the farmer's field to the consumer's table.

"ARS researchers are global leaders in agricultural innovation and take great pride in delivering scientific solutions to agricultural challenges with excellence and integrity," says ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young. "The accomplishments in this year's Scientific Discoveries are just a fraction of the amazing work our scientists perform year after year."

The multimedia website highlights prime research in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Plains and Pacific West regions of the United States as well as international locations in Europe, Australia and South America.

Highlights include:

  • Northeast: ARS scientists are using gene editing to assist in the development of a vaccine for African swine fever, which has devastated the pork industry in the eastern part of the world.
  • Southeast: A team of researchers, including ARS scientists, is on the cusp of releasing the world's first treatment for peanut allergy. The team developed an oral immunotherapy drug that is nearing final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Midwest: ARS researchers found that adding hops, an important ingredient in beer, to cattle feed may reduce overall cattle feed requirements and cut the animals' excretion of ammonia into the environment.
  • Plains: ARS scientists and their collaborators have developed a rapid, affordable test that can accurately detect the Zika virus by just shining a beam of light for a few seconds on the species of mosquito that spreads it.
  • Pacific West: ARS scientists found success in controlling cheatgrass, an aggressive invasive weed, using pre-emergent herbicides as part of an integrated management plan.
  • International: ARS researchers at the European Biological Control Laboratory's substation in Thessaloniki, Greece, have developed a molecular method that could revolutionize the surveillance of sand flies. Leishmaniasisis a disease transmitted by the sand fly and although it is not common in the United States, it poses a major threat to the U.S. military deployed overseas.

As the chief, in-house scientific research agency of the USDA, ARS has 682 funded projects and 8,000 employees in over 90 field locations dedicated to supporting the well-being of all people through research.

Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Swanson Family Farms receives Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship nhf-iowa-goodneighbor-swansonfamily.jpg

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award to the Swanson family, owners of Swanson Family Farms located in Galt, Iowa, this week. The operation is run by Ron and Florine Swanson, their son, Stuart and his wife, Lori, and their four children, Adelai, Celeste, Lilian and Delia. Marcus Gatewood is also an employee and important part of Swanson Family Farms.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the award presentation ceremony was limited to the family. Secretary Naig and the Swanson family practiced social distancing while receiving the award live on WHO Radio's The Big Show.

"The members of the Swanson family are great advocates for the agriculture community," says Naig. "Their willingness to open their barns to show consumers the time, energy and care that farmers put into raising their animals to feed others is critical to helping bridge the gap between the farm and the table."

After graduating from Iowa State University, Stuart started a farrow-to-finish hog enterprise in 1992. He has raised market animals, show pigs and replacement breeding stock. He currently custom finishes hogs for local producers.

Along with hogs, the Swanson family grows corn and soybeans, which they use for their own feed. The family highly values conservation and water quality practices on their farm. They practice manure management, wetland establishment and nutrient management. In addition, the family has more than five miles of buffers to prevent nutrient losses. They grid soil sample to determine soil quality on an acre-by-acre basis.

Stuart has served as an advocate for the agriculture community and has opened up his farm to tours on many occasions. In 2016, he teamed up with the Iowa Food and Family Project to show a group of 40 consumers the link between their food and the families that produce it. Stuart also volunteers as a 4-H club leader and is a member of the Wright County Pork Interest Group.

The Swanson family was nominated for the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award by industry representative, Joni Erwin.

The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award is made possible thanks to financial support from the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers. This award recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in caring for the environment, their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.

Source: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
Coronavirus

Tyson Foods launches nationwide COVID-19 monitoring strategy

Tyson Foods nhf-tyson-stormlake.jpg

As part of its commitment to team member safety and continually evolving efforts to protect workers from COVID-19, Tyson Foods, Inc. is launching a new, industry-leading monitoring program and expanding its occupational health staff, including a new chief medical officer position.

The comprehensive COVID-19 monitoring strategy was designed with the assistance of outside medical experts and includes ongoing, data driven COVID-19 testing of workers without symptoms, as well as those who exhibit certain symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus. 

"While the protective measures we've implemented in our facilities are working well, we remain vigilant about keeping our team members safe and are always evaluating ways to do more," says Donnie King, Tyson Foods group president and chief administrative officer. "We believe launching a new, strategic approach to monitoring and adding the health staff to support it will help further our efforts to go on the offensive against the virus. Adding more resources and technologies reinforces our commitment to protecting our team members, their families and plant communities."

Tyson Foods has been using testing as a tool to protect workers and the company says it likely has been involved in more testing than any other company in the country. Already having tested nearly a third of its workforce, the company plans to test thousands of workers every week across all of its facilities. Currently, less than 1% of Tyson Foods' U.S. workforce of 120,000 team members has active COVID-19. The company is continually tracking active COVID-19 cases involving company team members as well as the case levels in the communities where the company operates.

The new monitoring strategy Tyson Foods is implementing was designed with input from Matrix Medical and is consistent with CDC guidance.

To support the effort, Tyson Foods has created a chief medical officer position and plans to add almost 200 nurses and administrative support personnel to supplement the more than 400 people currently part of the company's health services team. The additional nurses will conduct the on-site testing and assist with case management, coordinating treatment for team members who contract the virus.  

"What we're adopting is a strategic, ongoing approach to combatting COVID-19," says King. "It involves weekly testing of team members at our facilities to monitor for the presence of the virus. By using data science to test a statistically sound sample of team members, we have a better chance of staying ahead of any potential virus spread and protecting our teams and communities."

"As the largest union for America's meatpacking workers, we welcome this important step by Tyson Foods, which demonstrates the leadership needed to strengthen COVID monitoring across the industry," says United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone. "UFCW is urging all companies in the industry to follow Tyson's lead and take immediate action to expand COVID monitoring as we work to flatten the curve. Together, we will continue to look for new and better ways to protect the health and safety of the brave frontline workers who are so important to the nation’s food production system."

The testing program includes three categories:

  • Strategic, always-on monitoring: Team members who have no symptoms may be selected for testing based on an algorithm-based selection process. The number tested each week will be dynamic and adjusted based on factors, such as the number of positive cases involving plant workers as well as people in the community. 
  • Symptomatic team members: The company conducts health screenings daily as team members arrive for work. Those found to have symptoms will be tested using CDC guidance. 
  • Close contacts: Team members who have come into close contact with co-workers (or non-Tyson personnel in the workplace) who have symptoms or have tested positive will be tested according to CDC guidance.

"We've been piloting this program at several of our facilities and have seen great success," says King. "Our team members tell us they feel especially supported by this scientifically sound combination of testing and monitoring."

Medical experts believe this monitoring approach is the best way to screen for COVID-19 in an ongoing way that helps determine the prevalence of the virus and how to keep it under control. It will especially be helpful in identifying team members who have the virus but are not showing any symptoms.

"The new monitoring program we helped Tyson create is a science-first approach that's really on the cutting edge of how workplaces can best mitigate the risk of the virus," says Daniel Castillo, chief medical officer for Matrix Medical Network, which has assisted in the development of the advanced testing protocols. "You'll likely see many others adopt a similar approach in the coming months because it's a process that looks both at people showing symptoms as well as those who do not."

Worker health and safety is Tyson Foods' top priority. The company formed a coronavirus task force in January and has since transformed its food production facilities with protective measures, from symptom screenings and face masks to workstation dividers and social distance monitors.

Tyson Foods has given plant tours to government leaders, and officials from the CDC and LULAC, the nation's largest and oldest Hispanic organization, so they could see the measures the company has put place. LULAC has acknowledged that Tyson Foods has "made significant strides." 

Source: Tyson Foods, Inc., which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.