corporate consolidation


Secretary Vilsack is no stranger to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Here, he appears at a hearing on the Farm Bill in February, 2015. USDA photo by Bob Nichols/Flickr

Questions for a Once-and-Future Agriculture Secretary

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

The last time the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) got a new leader, I was decidedly unimpressed. Okay, understatement…I was incensed by a secretary who cared little for science and was fully in the pocket of big agribusinesses (looking at you, Dow). After four years of all that, it’s refreshing to see a new administration listening to scientists and pledging to address the multiple crises we face. At the same time, the hill facing us is steep, and bold actions are needed. Read more >

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Photo: RiverNorthPhotography/iStockphoto

4 Ways Tyson Foods Made 2020 Worse

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

As you celebrate the season (safely, please!), consider the source of the protein on your plate and its costs beyond the checkout stand. Because the handful of multinational conglomerates that produce and process industrial pork, beef, and chicken in this country are profiting at the expense of workers, farmers, consumers, and the planet. And in an industry full of terrible actors this terrible year, Tyson is perhaps the most terrible. Read more >

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North Carolina hog CAFO in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, September 18, 2018. Photo: Larry Baldwin, Crystal Coast Waterkeeper/Waterkeeper Alliance

In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals, and Public Health

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I’ve joined millions who’ve watched with horror as the Carolinas have been inundated with floodwaters and worried about the various hazards those waters can contain. We’ve seen heavy metal-laden coal ash spills, a nuclear plant go on alert (thankfully without incident), and sewage treatment plants get swamped. But the biggest and most widely reported hazard associated with Florence appears to be the hog waste that is spilling from many of the state’s thousands of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and which threatens lasting havoc on public health and the local economy.

And while the state’s pork industry was already under fire for its day-to-day impacts on the health and quality of life of nearby residents, Florence has laid bare the lie that millions of animals and their copious waste can be safely concentrated in flood-prone coastal areas like southeastern North Carolina. Read more >

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At the Trump USDA, the “D” Stands for “Dow”

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Everywhere you look in the Trump administration, there’s the Dow Chemical Company. Or rather, DowDuPont, as the company has been known since a 2017 corporate merger. The influence of this multinational chemical and agribusiness conglomerate is being felt in regulatory decisions involving Dow’s products, and the administration has pulled multiple Dow executives and lobbyists through the revolving door into high-level government positions.

The latest example of the latter? Meet Scott Hutchins, the career Dow exec and pesticide booster nominated last month to oversee science at the USDA.

Read more >

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