Sen. Cory Booker introduced legislation yesterday that would require more transparency and oversight of how poultry loans are allocated by the Small Business Administration. The proposal comes just a week after a report from the Office of the Inspector General questioned nearly $2 billion in loans from the SBA to poultry farmers. (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.
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.
The 21-day-old chicken — white-feathered, dark-eyed, with a brush-cut of pale yellow bristles above its beak — climbed carefully up a ramp, teetered briefly at the top, then launched itself into space. It landed on another bird, flapped hard, and gave its accidental landing pad an apologetic peck. Then it wandered off into a crowd of more than 49,000 chickens just like it that were hopping into boxes, poking their beaks into straw bales, and settling in pools of sunlight for a snooze.
Workers at poultry processing plants endure "grim" conditions, says Oxfam America, in a report that calls for a better working environment at plants run by the four largest companies - Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Perdue and Sanderson Farms.
USDA said it certified four processing plants in China's Shandong Province to cook and ship poultry meat to U.S. customers, the latest step in a decade-old proposal.
The government revamped its poultry inspection system so USDA inspectors devote more time to preventing pathogen contamination of meat while processors have more responsibliity for finding quality defects.
"(C)ivil rights and worker-safety groups arranged for poultry workers to meet with lawmakers and administration officials to warn against the proposed acceleration of processing-line speeds...