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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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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When Covid-19 hits a rural meatpacking plant, county infection rates soar to five times the average

Rural counties that contain meatpacking plants with outbreaks of Covid-19 have infection rates that are five-times higher on average than the rest of rural America. Of the rural counties with the highest infection rates, most contain slaughterhouses where workers have contracted Covid-19. These rural counties also rank among those hardest hit by the disease nationally,… » Read More

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Charting the spread of Covid-19 in the food system

Food industry workers have experienced some of the fastest-growing rates of Covid-19, which FERN has been closely tracking in the food system since mid-April. The charts below draw out some trends from that data, including the states with the most severe outbreaks, which companies have the highest number of cases, and what types of plants… » Read More

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