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Carlos Moreno / KCUR

Despite Being Prioritized, Meatpackers Face Months-Long Wait For COVID-19 Vaccines

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of meatpacking plants across the country have struggled to contain outbreaks. Many of the hardest-hit plants are in the Midwest and Great Plains, where the virus initially spread on crowded production lines. Several states responded by prioritizing plant employees in their vaccine plans, and several companies are eager to secure doses for their employees. Ongoing vaccine supply issues across the country could force most workers to wait months...

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Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

The sound of peeping, fuzzy, freshly-hatched chicks drifts through Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, Missouri.

It’s a busy time for third-generation owner Jeff Smith. For hatchery season, which occurs from February to October, 300,000 eggs are delivered every seven days to the hatchery. For hatcheries, getting newborn chicks to their owner is a race against time. He has about a hundred employees working to get 200 varieties of chicks delivered safely to customers. 

“We work 24/7 here, everybody is tapped out on the time and energy that they can put into it,” Smith says. 

Wikimedia Commons

A new business in Iowa wants to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants. It would pave the way for biorefineries in Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas to deliver carbon-neutral fuel to the market.

CHAFER MACHINERY / Creative Commons

Midwest states including Missouri, Iowa and Illinois are updating the way they teach farmers to safely use pesticides, with the goals of making it easier for them to get the training and to keep the process under state control.

In Missouri, such training usually happened through in-person classes that included watching videos so old they are on VHS tapes. 

Carbon Is A New Cash Crop For Some Farmers

Feb 19, 2021
Katie Peikes / Harvest Public Media

There’s been a lot of hype around how farmers can make money from selling the carbon their plants naturally remove from the air, but there are still questions about how much of a difference these markets can make in reducing greenhouse gases.  

Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending the deadline for the largest private land conservation program in the country, following a shortfall in enrollment and change in the White House. 

The Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers and ranchers to preserve land for 10 to 15 years, but it saw a shortfall of 4 million acres under the Trump administration. As of December 2020, there are 20.8 million acres enrolled in the program. 

With President Biden’s focus on mitigating climate change, the USDA extended the deadline for enrollment. 

Courtesy of the University of Vermont

Many researchers have looked at nitrogen pollution hotspots around the country. But a new first-of-its-kind, multi-year study from the University of Vermont looks at areas where nitrogen pollution reduction is most feasible without affecting crop yield.

 

Seth Bodine / Harvest Public Media

It’s a cold February afternoon, and Alvin Lee’s cows are hungry. He says he has to put three or four bales of hay out every other day, and he only has about 10 left. 

New hay is expensive -- about $40 per bale. He managed to get some for $20 each, but they are three years old. If this keeps up, he’ll have to scrape together money for more hay, he says. 

Lee used to work in construction, but because of injuries from his time in the Marine Corps, he had to stop working. He moved to Wewoka, Oklahoma 25 years ago and bought 160 acres of land, which he hopes is his legacy. 

File Photo / Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Several large meat processing companies recently settled price-fixing lawsuits, but it’s unlikely those payments will change much in the food business, experts say.

Tyson agreed to a $221.5 million settlement with three consumer and purchasing groups that filed suit against the poultry giant. Chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride and pork company JBS also settled similar complaints. 

A series of studies at Purdue University show it’s less expensive for companies to continue price fixing and pay fines instead of reforming their practices.

Courtesy of USDA

Last month, the Illinois Department of Agriculture opened applications for its second annual Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program -- which provides a crop insurance discount for each acre of cover crop a farmer plants.

 

It filled up in less than 24 hours.

 

Read this article in English here.

Durante más de una década, Saraí ha sido una trabajadora agrícola que ha cultivado maíz y soya en los campos del centro de Illinois. Se mudó de México a los Estados Unidos para encontrar un trabajo que le permitiera mantener mejor a su familia.

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Change At The Climate Divide

Farms and communities are struggling to adapt as climate change has moved the line dividing the arid west and the rain-soaked east.

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