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· In Nebraska, fight over Costco chicken farms escalates
· Costco Falters Following Oppenheimer Downgrade
In Nebraska, fight over Costco chicken farms escalates
By Leah Douglas, Fern's Ag Insider
September 10, 2019
As Nebraska’s brand-new Costco chicken processing plant begins sending birds down the line in Fremont, residents are escalating their protest against the company by pushing for a statewide moratorium on new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
A petition for the moratorium launched Tuesday, just before a contentious zoning board meeting in Saunders County, which is just south of Fremont, at which board members approved a 12-barn poultry operation that will grow chickens for Costco and be run by an out-of-state investor. The conflict has caught the attention of Gov. Pete Ricketts, who late Tuesday night released a press statement calling the moratorium supporters “radical anti-agriculture groups.”
Since Costco announced in 2016 that it would open a poultry plant in Fremont, many residents have been concerned about the number of chicken farms that have sprung up to serve the plant. Nebraska has never had large-scale poultry production. Now, barns holding more than 47,000 chickens at a time are being built across the eastern part of the state and into western Iowa, and their neighbors are worried about water, air, and noise pollution.
These concerns have unified a coalition of advocacy groups, some formed over the past several months to educate the communities about the potential harms of large-scale livestock farming. The groups calling for the moratorium on Tuesday included Nebraska Communities United, Lancaster Hill Alliance, RC Communities United, Elmwood First, Community Advocates for Responsible Agriculture, and the Nebraska Sierra Club.
“Costco’s new extreme form of vertical integration jeopardizes the public’s health and well-being, and [the] extractive industrial food system puts our farmers at risk with unethical contracts, with the development low-wage/low-class systems in our rural communities, and also by toxifying our water resources,” wrote Melissa Baker and Graham Christensen of environmental consultancy GC Resolve in a press release announcing the moratorium petition. “This form of agriculture does not meet Nebraskan’s high business standards and therefore companies that practice this extreme form of food production should not be allowed into our communities.”
Commenting on the moratorium, Jessica Kolterman, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Premium Poultry, a company formed to run Costco’s processing plant, said, “It’s unfortunate that there is such a limited understanding of the positive impact of livestock in Nebraska.” She said that the moratorium probably wouldn’t affect Costco-related operations, which are “already approved or in the final stages of being approved.”
The push for a moratorium comes soon after a news report that 132 barns linked to the Costco plant have been proposed by a single out-of-state operator. The barns comprise nearly a fourth of the 520 Costco has said it needs to supply its plant. Community members say the concentration of so many barns in the hands of one person undermines Costco’s purported mission to use its poultry plant to bring jobs to Nebraskans.
“Costco and Lincoln Premium say this is about family farming; about bringing the next generation back to the family farm. However, their actions speak differently,” said Randy Ruppert, of Nebraska Communities United, in the press release...
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Costco Falters Following Oppenheimer Downgrade
Oppenheimer analysts are worried about valuation following the stock's nearly 50% year-to-date increase.
Tony Owusu, TheStreet
Sep 11, 2019
Costco (COST) was falling after shares of the warehouse retailer were downgraded by analysts at Oppenheimer who are worried about valuation following the stock's nearly 50% year-to-date increase.
Oppenheimer downgraded the stock to perform from outperform, leading to a 0.73% decline in trading Wednesday to $294.83. Despite the downgrade, Oppenheimer raised Costco's price target to $300 from $295.
The price target represents very little upside from the stock's previous closing price of $297.
"As we look forward, we now see less upside for shares driven by the now even more premium valuation, potentially aggressive Street forecasts, and difficult compares especially in Q2," Oppenheimer analyst Rupesh Parikh said.
The company's price to future earnings ratio sits at 34.5 times, which is "well above prior peaks on both metrics," according to Parikh...