Millions of heads of American cattle could soon “starve to death” due to rail, feed crisis
01/11/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

California-based poultry producer Foster Farms is petitioning the Service Transportation Board (STB) for emergency assistance, warning that its dairy cattle and chickens are running out of food, and fast.

Blaming extreme weather conditions, Union Pacific (UP) rail delivery failures, and other factors, Foster Farms says the "point has again been reached where hundreds of thousands of dairy cattle are not being fed, and ... millions of chickens will starve to death because of UP's service failures."

A day after the petition was submitted, a U.S. freight rail regulator ordered UP to deliver five trains of feed to Foster Farms. However, only one of those trains arrived as scheduled, according to the company.

Because chickens are smaller than cattle, they risk dying more quickly without food than their larger counterparts. To prevent this, Foster Farms says it is diverting cattle feed to its chickens for the time being.

Responding to the complaint, UP blamed its delivery delays on bad weather, which now includes washouts in California due to numerous "atmospheric river" events, as well as rockslides in Nevada. (Related: We warned you about all this and more last year.)

"Union Pacific continues to work closely with Foster Farms, providing daily updates and delivering the trains addressed in the order," a spokeswoman from the company said.

"Systemic problems," not just weather, to blame for UP train failures

Four of the five UP feed trains have since arrived, after which Foster Farms wrote in an STB filing that it believes there is more to the story than just bad weather.


"While Foster Farms concedes that weather played a part, it also believes this failure is indicative of systemic problems within UP that will persist," the company said.

As you may recall, UP and other major rail lines have been on the verge of a nationwide strike for many months now. Failed negotiations with unions and the Biden regime have left a precarious situation that seems to get worse by the day.

Since October, three Foster Farms facilities are undersupplied due to UP delays. In the past six months, Foster Farms has twice attempted to get emergency assistance with very little success.

"In June, Foster Farms said it was on the verge of euthanizing millions of birds because of delays in feed shipments, and it received a rare emergency service order from the STB to alleviate the crisis," reported The Wall Street Journal. "This type of order was the first in more than a decade."

That same month, the Foster family sold off the company to Atlas Holdings, prompting Donnie Smith, a former CEO of competitor Tyson, to come out of retirement to take over the company.

"There were very few opportunities that would cause me to, frankly, get out of what was a deliriously happy retirement," Smith said. "I had a very fulfilling retirement, but for me, this was such an intriguing and such a phenomenal opportunity for me ... I just couldn't say no."

All of this is a crying shame, considering California used to be the "breadbasket" of the nation. Without working rail lines and stable feed supplies, poultry and cattle are at risk of dying, which means mass starvation could be looming for the millions of Americans who rely on these animals for food.

"This is being orchestrated," wrote a commenter about the situation. "The first complaints about the railroad, just last year, were when they limited amounts of fertilizer being delivered for agricultural use, limiting crop yields. Now they're going after the meat industry."

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