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(Flickr/TimSackton)
(Flickr/TimSackton)
Expansion in the country’s beef cattle herd is bringing cheaper meat prices to the grocery store just in time for the summer grilling season, but those reduced prices might get some scrutiny on Capitol Hill.
 
U.S. Department of Agriculture data show the price of ground beef is down about 30 cents per pound compared to last year.
Workers at a beef processing plant in San Antonio, Texas cut meat from the bone. (Courtesy Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Workers at a beef processing plant in San Antonio, Texas cut meat from the bone. (Courtesy Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

A slaughterhouse is a safer place to work than it used to be, but data gathered by federal regulators doesn’t capture all the risks faced by meat and poultry workers, according to a new government report.

In an update to a 2005 report criticizing safety conditions for workers in the meat industry, the Government Accountability Office says injuries and illnesses are still common. From 2014 to 2013, 151 meat and poultry workers died from injuries sustained at work. The injury rate for meat workers remains higher than the rest of the manufacturing industry.

But injuries in the meat industry are also likely to be underreported.

(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

The country’s top agriculture official, Tom Vilsack, is declining to comment on some of the largest mergers the farm economy has ever seen.

Possible deals between Germany-based Bayer and American seed giant Monsanto, Switzerland-based Syngenta and ChemChina, a state-owned Chinese chemical company, and between American chemical companies Dow and DuPont could further consolidate an already consolidated market [.pdf]. That means farmers could face fewer choices when buying seeds or chemicals.

“I’m not going to respond directly to particular business transactions,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was in Fort Collins, Colorado to talk about his department’s push to help farmers adapt to climate change.

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