Food supply issues

Back in March, the coronavirus started triggering infection hotspots in and around meatpacking plants, sickening and killing workers. As local public health authorities pushed giant meat conglomerates to close infected facilities, industry executives warned that doing so was “pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” as Kenneth M. Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, declared in a April 12 press release.

Coronavirus at meat packing plants worse than first thought, USA TODAY investigation finds

A rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meat packing plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought, according to an exclusive review of cases by USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

And it could get worse. More than 150 of America’s largest meat processing plants operate in counties where the rate of coronavirus infection is already among the nation’s highest, based on the media outlets’ analysis of slaughterhouse locations and county-level COVID-19 infection rates.

#AgAlerts: Farmer suicides; unharvested corn; meatpacker rules; bees

For decades, farmers have been engaged in an epic battle of David vs. Goliath, farmer vs. meatpacker. Just a handful of companies—including Tyson, JBS, and Cargill—control over 80 percent of the meat market. These companies set the price farmers and ranchers receive for their animals, and often work together to ensure that they stay low.

#AgAlerts: Forever chemicals; change in the calorie count of nuts; Walmart’s meatpacking; the Salton Sea and food stamps

In 2018, 3M agreed to pay Minnesota $850 million to settle a case alleging the manufacturer damaged natural resources and contaminated groundwater by disposing of the chemicals over decades. Studies have associated certain PFAS chemicals with increased risk of cancer and damage to organs such as the liver and thyroid. The suit alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that the chemicals persist in the environment and do not degrade, that they would inevitably accumulate and build up in humans and animals, and that it is a potential or confirm carcinogen.