This week we look at CAFOs and why rules make it so difficult to understand the impact of these factory farms on the environment and rural communities. Plus our Commentator, Dave Dickey on Big Meat's COVID response and a look at leafy greens and E. coli.

Please stay safe and read on.

Information on factory farms is spotty at best. The government has been hogtied from doing more.

There is no comprehensive list of all the concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in the Midwest. A lawsuit prevented the federal government from making one, and states take different approaches.


By Madison McVan, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting | February 15, 2021

Deborah Bunka knows she’s in Hardin County, Iowa, when the smell of manure starts to filter in through her car’s air conditioning. 

As the membership director for Iowa Farmers Union, Bunka has spent a lot of time talking to farmers in counties like Hardin, where pigs outnumber people about 37 to 1. And she’s seen firsthand the effects of living in close proximity to so many animals.

“There are parts of this state where you can’t open your windows,” Bunka said. 

In Iowa and across the Midwest, the source of the smell can be hard to pinpoint, and that’s by design. The federal government doesn’t keep tabs on livestock operations nationwide, a matter of concern for environmentalists, activists and community members alike.


GRAPHIC: Leafy greens have caused more than 40 E. coli outbreaks in the past decade. The FDA is trying to change that.

By Madison McVan, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting | February 23, 2021


Opinion: Big Meat must provide transparency for COVID response

By Dave Dickey, Commentator | February 24, 2021


ICYMI: Our recent stories

The CDC recommended states prioritize farmworkers for the COVID-19 vaccine. A few large agricultural states have not.

Ten months into pandemic, Rochelle Foods and Illinois health department still at odds over COVID-1

Farmers already felt isolated. The COVID-19 pandemic made it worse.

OSHA and USDA waited months into pandemic to coordinate effort into COVID-19 crisis in meatpacking plants, emails show


GRAPHIC: Fines for environmental violations dropped during Trump administration

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