EPA takes steps to allow continued use of pesticides linked to cancer, brain development issues in children

The Trump administration in recent days took steps toward continuing to allow the use of two popular pesticides linked to developmental issues in children. In both cases, the agency weakened its metrics for assessing human health protections. On Sept. 18, the EPA approved the continued use of atrazine, the second most commonly sprayed herbicide in the United States. Atrazine, whose main manufacturer is Syngenta, is banned in more than 35 countries, including the European Union, because of its links to human health, which include reproductive issues, an increased chance of birth defects, a loss of fertility in men and a potential to cause cancer.

As slaughter numbers decline, pork prices rise

Outbreaks of COVID-19 at meatpacking facilities across the United States have shaken the livestocks markets, harming both producers and consumers. 

As of May 4, there have been at least 9,300 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities at at least 164 plants in 27 states, and at least 40 reported worker deaths at 21 plants in 15 states, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting’s database. In response, facilities have closed or scaled down production, leaving farmers without a market to sell their livestock. Hog commodity prices have dropped, and at least 2 million animals have been euthanized. Lee Schulz, associate professor of agricultural economics at Iowa State University, shared his expertise on the pork industry with the FarmDoc Daily Webinar at the University of Illinois. Here are three takeaways from his presentation Friday morning:

Problems are happening because of set infrastructure

Fifteen meat processing plants slaughter 62 % of the hogs each year, and 27 plants slaughter 86.5 % of the hogs each year.