The federal government has taken steps aimed at reducing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a serious health threat that sickens an estimated 2 million people in the United States each year. But nobody knows if those steps — many focused on monitoring the antibiotics given to cattle, hogs and chickens raised for food — are working.
Efforts like this one have largely failed during the past two decades as pork producers constructed more than 900 new swine confinements across Illinois, often brushing aside farm families’ concerns about sickening odors, road damage, depletion of wells and fouling of creeks. But this network of farmsteads set amid rolling hills has become the newest battleground where small-town residents are trying to fend off a leading U.S. pork producer
Last week, several news outlets reported on a World Health Organization study that linked processed meats such as bacon and hotdogs to cancer. Industry groups were quick to denounce the findings, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which argued science does not support the findings.
The largest privately held company in the United States will soon become a little smaller, as Minneapolis-based Cargill plans to sell its pork business to Brazilian meat producer JBS’ USA Pork division. The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal is worth $1.45 billion and includes two meat processing plants in Iowa and Illinois, along with five feed mills in Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa and Texas. It also includes four hog farms in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
ByClaire Everett/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
As China has rapidly shifted from a rural society to a more urban society, U.S. meat-production companies have looked to capitalize on new business opportunities. Tyson Foods Inc and Cargill, two of the largest poultry producers in the world, have already established production plants in China. However, some experts say that business abroad has not been profitable yet and that companies are looking to further control their foreign operations.