British egg lovers are in luck: Free-range eggs have returned to grocery store shelves, a sign that the avian influenza outbreak has abated enough for the government to reduce the risk level to medium, The Press Association recently reported.
Fears of the disease spreading among flocks forced producers to keep their hens indoors at the height of the outbreak, leading to higher energy bills, and chicken feed, hen and packaging price increases as producers cut back, exacerbating an egg shortage.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss told The Press Association the decision to allow the birds back outside means producers will have to maintain “scrupulous” biosecurity standards since cases still are turning up in the wild.
Since October 2021, the U.K. has had 330 confirmed cases – the country’s largest ever outbreak.
Meanwhile, in other agriculture news:
Flooding fears ramp up: California, which has suffered years of severe drought, is bracing for massive flooding in the wake of record rains and a historic snowfall. With temperatures warming, a massive snowmelt is poised to send trillions of gallons of water pouring down, overwhelming downstream reservoirs, The Guardian quoted climate scientist Daniel Swain as saying in an online briefing. The snowpack was at 233% of its April 1 average. New Mexico and Arizona already have been hit by massive snowmelt from the Rockies.
Minnesota Public Radio reported Monday that rivers across that state are hitting flood stage, in the wake of near-record snowfall this winter. In St. Paul, the city was forced to close Mississippi riverfront roads, and in Stillwater the St. Croix River was just a few inches shy of its 2019 crest. The state already has set up a $40 million disaster assistance fund.
Conversely, in Europe yet another year of severe drought is looming in parts of France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain. Andrea Toreti, who heads the drought team for the European Commission’s Copernicus European and Global Drought Observatory, told Voice of America recently that mitigation and adaptation measures must be adopted to cope with what’s becoming the new normal.
Vertical farming category takes a hit: Upward Farms said it would end its vertical-farming business despite $15 million in fresh funding from venture-capital investor Prime Movers Lab.
“We found that vertical farming is almost infinitely complex – as we tackled challenges, new ones emerged,” founders Jason Green, Ben Silverman and Matthew La Rosa said on their website. The company was founded in 2013, and the owners said some employees will continue working on processes.
Eye-opening dairy data: Recent research from the International Deli Bakery Association and Circana showed inflation hit a record high in the dairy aisle in December, Supermarket News reported. Prices continued to rise in January, up 26.2% from 2021 and 41% higher than 2019 prices.
“The above-average inflation in dairy prompted the total refrigerated department to jump over the meat department in January sales,” Whitney Atkins, vice president of marketing for the IDDBA, told Supermarket News. Dairy sales over the 52-week period totaled $7 billion, up 16.6% from the previous year.