Foreign-born poultry processing workers face challenges

That could be why 28.7 percent of meat and poultry workers in 2015 were foreign-born non-citizens — more than three times the rate for manufacturing industries in general, according to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report. The work can be an attractive option for newcomers to the country.

Poultry processing workers still face high number of injuries
Conditions at a Tyson plant in Sedalia, Missouri — the state’s second-largest — are a window into what workers face industry-wide.

Although the meat and poultry processing industry’s injury rate has been dropping for years, it remains higher than average for manufacturing, and vast numbers of injuries never get reported in the first place, according to a 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office.

Large animal feeding operations on the rise
Several states see shifts in animal production since 2011

The number of new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have increased across the U.S. over the past six years - bringing the total operations just under 20,000, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. From 2011 to 2017, the United States saw more than 1,400 new large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) established. That’s up 7.6 percent. Here's a look at the issue in maps and charts.

Local communities fight air pollution from large animal farms
Lack of regulations leaves communities exposed to health and climate risks

With their expansive deck overlooking a pond, Shirley Kidwell and her family used to spend summer days outdoors reading, but the growth of large animal farms in the area has eliminated that pastime. “When that odor hits, you’ve got to go inside and a lot of times we go downstairs to the basement to get away from it,” said Kidwell, the owner of a small farm in Callaway county, Missouri, and the secretary for Friends of Responsible Agriculture, who lives within a mile of a farm with 5,600 hogs. Kidwell and other residents are particularly worried about a new 10,000-hog farm moving to Callaway county.  It would be built less than a mile from Kidwell’s home. According to a 2017 report from the office of the inspector general, there are currently 450,000 animal feeding operations in the U.S.  The majority contain less than 300 animals, but approximately 18,000 raise thousands of animals. Air pollution from those operations can create numerous respiratory health problems, such as asthma, and contribute to climate change.

Organic crops lucrative, challenging for U.S. farmers

Despite a steady increase in demand for organic products among consumers, U.S. crop growers have been reluctant to make the switch from conventional crops, even if it could mean higher profits for farmers struggling with low commodity prices.

High-stakes pesticide battle pits farmer against farmer

With the new planting season beginning, legal battles over dicamba are heating up in
federal and state courts.

Monsanto, BASF and DowDuPont are defendants in lawsuits initiated by farmers
seeking millions in compensation for crops they say were damaged last summer.

The plaintiffs have brought 14 cases in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri but, as a result of a February ruling, they will be heard together by a federal panel in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, a coalition of food safety, environmental and farming groups is asking the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rescind the Environmental Protection Agency’s conditional approval of the new version of Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide, known as
XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology.