After a farmworker in rural Texas died of complications from Covid-19, his family and federal investigators want answers

Editor’s note: Some names in this story have been changed to protect farmworkers from potential reprisal. On June 30, Marco Antonio Galvan Gomez left his home in Guanajuato, Mexico on a 1,200-mile journey to a sprawling potato farm in the Texas Panhandle. The breadwinner for his family, Galvan, always easygoing and athletic, was undaunted by… » Read More

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At the nation’s largest student farm organization, a reckoning on race

When Xavier Morgan first enrolled in the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in 2010, he wasn’t necessarily interested in farming. In fact, his admission to the school, which his aunt recommended due to its strong reputation for career and technical education, was in part a product of chance. “I actually have no family ties… » Read More

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How do climate change, migration and a deadly sheep disease alter our understanding of pandemics?

For thousands of years, an unknown virus lingered quietly among the wild ruminants of South Africa. The kudu. The giraffes. The Cape buffalo. Spread by a genus of biting midges called Culicoides, the virus lived in harmony with its hosts, rarely causing disease, until the late 18th century, when farmers began importing purebred merino sheep… » Read More

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Can grazing save endangered grasslands?

On the last weekend in May, in the northeast corner of Oregon, there is a traffic jam of weathered pickups and horse trailers on the Zumwalt Road. Redwing blackbirds trill over the bellowing of hundreds of Angus-cross cattle clustered by corrals, the sign of a spring branding in progress. Half a dozen cowgirls and cowboys… » Read More

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Pandemic and protest in a meatpacking town

Last March, Maira Mendez, a high school administrator in Lincoln, Nebraska, worried her parents might contract coronavirus from their jobs at Smithfield Foods, a massive pork processing plant in the nearby town of Crete. While the country grappled with stay-at-home orders, meatpacking plants across the nation quickly became invisible hotspots for the virus. Mendez and… » Read More

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Mapping Covid-19 outbreaks in the food system

Since April, FERN has been closely tracking the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants, food processing facilities, and farms. This dashboard is home to our latest reporting on Covid-19 cases and food system workers, and is updated each weekday. According to data collected by FERN, as of October 20 at 12pm ET, at least 1,136… » Read More

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As Covid-19 cases spike, an unprecedented alliance emerges to protect California farmworkers

Advocates have warned since the beginning of the pandemic that the 2.4 million farmworkers who plant and harvest the nation’s food live and labor under conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. And now, just as they predicted, outbreaks among farmworkers have erupted in agricultural hubs across the country as peak summer… » Read More

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