With limited staff, OSHA targets ‘severe violators’

A FairWarning analysis of OSHA data found that six years into the agency’s severe violator program – arguably the broadest workplace safety initiative launched during the Obama administration – more than 500 businesses are on its list of bad actors. They include corporate giants such as DuPont and International Paper, each with tens of thousands of employees, as well as more than 300 construction firms, many with fewer than a dozen workers.

Opinion: Congress seeks to drive out independent agriculture

A former USDA administrator writes: Recently certain members of Congress began efforts to protect Big Ag and forgo meaningful regulations meant to protect small farmers and ranchers from abuses such as retaliation, bad faith, denial of due process and fraud.

IowaWatch Connection Podcast: Health Impacts Of Widely-Used Pesticides Uncertain

From our friends at Iowa Watch: Iowa’s wide expanses of row-cropped fields produced roughly 2.5 billion bushels of corn and 554 million bushels of soybeans in 2015. And for many, those high yields are thanks in part to pesticides. But what impact, if any, do those chemicals have on our health? It’s a controversial topic and the answer is hard to pin down. In many cases, those we spoke with said the jury is still out.

Dangerous jobs, cheap meats

The meatpacking industry has made a lot of progress on worker safety since publication of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” in 1906, but some things remain the same: the work is mostly done by immigrants and refugees; they suffer high rates of injuries and even, sometimes death; and the government lags in oversight.

Farmers question impact of new Illinois mine

Keith Rohl remembers the day he was asked to lease the coal rights to his farmland in Homer, Ill.
It was 2009, a wet year for the crops, when he was lined up at the grain elevator with his neighbors hearing about the proposed Bulldog Mine for the first time.
“The neighbors were all talking about, ‘You sell your coal rights, and you get to farm your land on top. You’re going to have all kinds of money and everything.’ And I thought ‘Boy, that sounds great to me, and I was ready to sign up,’ ” he said.
But the more Rohl talked with the company who planned to establish the mine, Sunrise Coal LLC, the less he understood about what the mine would mean long term for his community.

Bacon Remains Popular Despite Health Concerns

Despite links to health problems, including a World Health Organization report confirming that processed meats cause colorectal cancer, bacon has been popular enough in the last few years for pork industry workers to start referring to a “bacon tsunami.” The trend is good economic news for Iowa, the top pork-producing state in the U.S.

Opinion: Latest ethanol mandates draw relief, disappointment

The U.S. farmer is drowning in a sea of corn. So the Nov. 30 announcement by the EPA to push oil companies to blend a total of 18.1 billion gallons of biofuels into gasoline in 2016 came as a relief to some. Here’s why.

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