As Covid-19 has swept through meatpacking facilities, it has been hard to figure out exactly how many workers have gotten sick or died of the virus. Some companies have shared numbers on positive cases, but most of the largest meatpackers have kept that data private. Critics say that the lack of disclosure puts public health at risk, especially as nearly all idled meat plants reopen. (No paywall)
new FERN investigation, published Friday in collaboration with Mother Jones, reporters Esther Honig and Ted Genoways tell the stories of workers in America's meatpacking plants who are facing high rates of Covid-19 — and of the industry's chilling disregard for its workforce. (No paywall)
The Trump administration's top meat-industry priority is reopening three pork plants, now shuttered due to coronavirus outbreaks, that account for 12 percent of U.S. hog slaughter, said the House Agriculture Committee chairman on Wednesday. Labor and public officials said meat production will not revive nationwide unless workers feel safe in the processing plants. (No paywall)
Meatpacker JBS USA said it will close its cattle slaughter plant in Greeley, Colorado, until April 24 while its 6,000 employees self-quarantine in an effort to eradicate a coronavirus outbreak in the community. Two JBS workers have died of Covid-19 and four dozen others have tested positive for the virus.
Under pressure from state and local officials, Smithfield Foods said that its mammoth pork plant in Sioux Falls "will remain closed until further notice" and suggested Covid-19 cases could jeopardize the U.S. food supply. The pork plant was linked to 38 percent of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Dakota.(No paywall)
A class-action lawsuit filed this week on behalf of pork consumers alleges that hog companies have colluded to artificially hike the price of pork — and their profits. The complaint also provides new insight into Agri Stats, a data-sharing company that sits at the center of the wave of antitrust allegations sweeping the meat sector.(No paywall)
Just a few months after news broke that the nation’s top attorneys are investigating Big Chicken for alleged antitrust violations, similar allegations are piling up against Big Beef. Consumers, ranchers, and a meat distributor have now filed lawsuits alleging that the country’s biggest beef companies have broken antitrust law by conspiring to raise the price of beef and lower the amount paid to producers.
A Brazilian-owned meat processing company undercut its competition by more than $1 per pound to win nearly $78 million in pork contracts through a federal program launched to help American farmers offset the impact of the ongoing trade war. As a result, JBS USA has won more than 26 percent of the $300 million the USDA has allocated so far for pork purchases — more than any other company, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.(No paywall)
In a new lawsuit, environmental advocates say a Colorado beef-packing plant owned by JBS has been dumping polluted wastewater into a river for years. The suit comes as the Brazilian company is under fire for taking millions in President Trump's tariff bailout payments. (No paywall)