Meatpackers drafted Trump order on meat plants during Covid-19
Facing pressure from local health officials over conditions in their plants, meatpacking companies "drafted and pitched an executive order to the Trump White House" to keep slaughterhouses open during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, said a congressional staff report on Thursday. When President Trump issued an order that adopted the industry position, meatpackers exaggerated its scope.
EPA to investigate North Carolina biogas for discrimination
The Environmental Protection Agency has notified North Carolina civil rights groups that it will investigate whether state regulators discriminated against communities of color when they approved four applications to convert hog waste into fuel. (No paywall)
North Carolina advocate who successfully fought hog industry dies
Elsie Herring, who died this week, was the public face of the many rural North Carolinians who felt besieged by the proliferation of industrial hog farms. In a region where complaining about these operations was considered both risky and futile, she confronted the industry over its pollution for more than two decades and never let herself appear intimidated. No paywall
Smithfield pork plant in LA faces rolling Covid-19 outbreak
A coronavirus outbreak at the Farmer John pork processing plant in Los Angeles County that began nearly a year ago has been the focus of two state investigations. Cases at the Smithfield Foods-owned plant have more than doubled — with over 300 cases reported in January alone — as the county has become a Covid-19 epicenter, Leah Douglas and Georgia Gee report in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with the Covid-19 Reporting Project.
House committee to investigate meatpacking plant outbreaks
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation Monday into the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants during the course of the pandemic. The committee sent letters to the country's top meatpackers — JBS, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods — as well as to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting scores of information on the entities' management of the spread of the virus among meatpacking workers, with a response deadline of Feb. 15.(No paywall)
Smithfield settles suits over North Carolina farms, after losing appeal
Smithfield Foods announced Thursday that it had reached a settlement with plaintiffs who had sued the company over the stench, flies, buzzards, and truck traffic coming from its industrial swine farms in North Carolina. The announcement came immediately after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, rejected a call from the world’s largest pork producer for a retrial in a lower court case it had lost. (No paywall)
Children of workers led virus-driven protests in meatpacking town
This past spring, as meatpacking plants across the nation quickly became invisible hotspots for Covid-19, a group of young adults whose parents work at the massive Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Crete, Nebraska, launched a series of protests that were unprecedented in an industry that likes to keep a low profile, as Esther Honig and Mary Anne Andrei report in FERN's latest story, a multimedia partnership with Latino USA.(No paywall)
Opinion — Smithfield’s media attack shifts attention from its own lack of disclosure
In a full-page ad in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, Smithfield Foods, the nation's largest pork company, alleged that the media and other "critics" have targeted the company with "accusations fueled by misinformation and disinformation" about its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In doing so, Smithfield is ignoring its own role in limiting public discourse about the pandemic and eluding its efforts to promote a more friendly regulatory environment. (No paywall)
Covid-19 cases appear to be slowing at meat plants. But companies aren’t releasing test results.
After many months of surging cases, the number of new Covid-19 infections reported at meatpacking plants appears to have slowed. Yet with limited information from the major meatpackers on new cases at their facilities, advocates say it isn’t clear whether the trend reflects a true decline.(No paywall)
As more meatpacking workers fall ill from Covid-19, meat companies decline to disclose data
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)
Three pork plants are top U.S. priority for reopening, says Peterson
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)
As meat plants reopen, Iowa, South Dakota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska are coronavirus leaders
As many as 18 percent of workers in meat and poultry plants are infected with the coronavirus in Iowa and South Dakota, while Pennsylvania and Nebraska account for one-quarter of the Covid-19 cases nationwide, said CDC scientists and state public health officials. The CDC released the report as Smithfield Foods, one of the giants of the meat industry, began to reopen a hog plant that was a coronavirus hot spot three weeks ago.(No paywall)
JBS tells 6,000 beef workers to self-quarantine
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.
Smithfield closes pork plant indefinitely; hot spot for coronavirus
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)
Smithfield Foods calls timeout to sanitize Sioux Falls plant
One of the largest U.S. meat processors, Smithfield Foods, said it will conduct "deep cleaning and sanitization," beginning on Saturday at the South Dakota pork plant where more than 80 of 3,700 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. (No paywall)
‘Nobody wants another Flint, Michigan,’ judge tells Smithfield in hog-case appeal hearing
Attorneys for a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, went before the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, Friday and asked three judges to overturn a $3.25 million jury award in a lawsuit filed by neighbors of a large North Carolina hog farm. …
The rural residents who took on the world’s largest hog producer – and won
Mostly black rural residents in North Carolina took on the hog industry’s biggest producer, Smithfield, and won multimillion-dollar verdicts over hog pollution, writer Barry Yeoman reports in FERN’s latest story. But the story, produced with The Nation, points out that these …
More antitrust lawsuits hit the meat industry. This time, it’s pork.
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)
Environmental groups sue to challenge North Carolina right-to-farm expansion
Four environmental groups filed a constitutional challenge on Wednesday against recent amendments to North Carolina’s “right-to-farm” laws. The suit takes on two state laws, passed in 2017 and 2018, that limit residents’ ability to file nuisance suits against large-scale livestock farms and the …