Last fall, a small community in northeast Kansas made headlines when thousands of residents protested the announcement that a Tyson poultry processing plant would soon be built nearby. Once the residents of Tonganoxie won their “No Tyson in Tongie” campaign, other communities followed suit. Now, state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it easier for communities to vote on whether to introduce new poultry processing facilities or large-scale farms in their communities, reports High Plains Public Radio.
Poultry processors will soon be able to ask the USDA’s meat safety agency for permission to run slaughter lines at up to 175 birds per minute, an increase from the current limit of 140 birds.
Tyson, the largest poultry company in the U.S., has failed at its second attempt to find a location for a new meatpacking facility in Kansas. Last week, an economic development group in Sedgwick County withdrew its bid for the $320 million plant. The decision came amidst an outpouring of public backlash, and follows Tyson’s squashed attempts earlier this year to build the same facility in Tonganoxie, Kansas. (No paywall)
A class-action lawsuit in Arkansas challenges as unconstitutional two drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation programs that require participants to work for free at chicken processing plants and a plastic manufacturing plant, reports Reveal, from the Center from Investigative Reporting. The programs are populated by defendants who are sent to rehab as an alternative to imprisonment.
Antibiotic-resistant infections — everything from gastrointestinal illnesses to recurring urinary tract infections and staph — are among the most menacing issues in public health today, sickening 2 million people a year and killing at least 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So perhaps it’s not surprising that government has begun to take steps to limit antibiotics in animal agriculture, where many of these infections arise, before they wreak further havoc in humans.
Republican lawmakers and the chicken industry "are aggressively lobbying to speed up" inspection lines, now limited to 140 birds per minute, at poultry slaughter and processing plants, says NBC News. The trade group National Chicken Council has petitioned USDA to allow plants participating in a new inspection system to operate "at any line speed" they can handle.
Fourteen of the top 25 restaurant chains in the United States are telling farmers to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in chickens, compared with nine a year ago, according to the annual Chain Reaction report. “While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.”
Less than two weeks ago, Tyson food executives, officials in Tonganoxie and Leavenworth counties in Kansas and Gov. Sam Brownback revealed a $320-million plan to develop "a chicken hatchery, feed mill, meatpacking plant and 300 to 400 poultry grow houses," reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. By Monday, 2,400 residents, including many ranchers, had gathered in the streets to protest the chicken plant, cheering a sign held by a 4-year-old: “No Tyson! No friggin’ chickens! No kidding!”
Poultry farms in India are dosing their chickens with antibiotics at such high rates that 94 percent of meat chickens and 60 percent of laying hens tested in a new study harbored multi-drug-resistant bacteria that can cause grave human infections.