Author

Madison McVan

Madison McVan

Madison McVan graduated from the University of Missouri in 2020 with degrees in Journalism and Latin American Studies. Before joining the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, she worked for the Columbia Missourian and Missouri Info Corps, covering topics including state and local government, meatpacking plants and the coronavirus pandemic. She is fluent in Spanish and has published work in both Spanish and English. Originally from Pflugerville, Texas, she is now based in the Twin Cities

Large CAFOs are known polluters. Here’s why EPA permits only cover one-third

By: - November 21, 2022

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest.  The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with protecting important waterways from pollution, but manure from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, continues to harm waterways — and only one-third of the largest facilities have a federal permit. EPA permits require CAFO operators to tell the agency how […]

Program meant to help farmers in trade war overspent, lacked transparency and compliance checks

By: , and - October 26, 2022

This article was produced in collaboration with Investigate Midwest and Gray Television’s InvestigateTV. A U.S. Department of Agriculture program touted as relief for lost trade during the Trump-era trade war with China spent unprecedented amounts of money, bypassed Congressional approval and lacked checks to ensure the payments went to eligible farmers. The Market Facilitation Program, […]

JBS, Tyson Foods invest in smartwatch app that monitors workers

By: - October 14, 2022

This story originally appeared in Investigate Midwest.  Two of America’s largest meat companies — JBS and Tyson Foods — have invested in a smartwatch application that allows managers to monitor workers’ movements. The startup behind the application, Mentore, claims to improve worker productivity while reducing injuries. The repetitive, fast and taxing work of cutting and packing protein […]

In Washington, agricultural policymakers circulate among Farm Bureau, USDA and industry

By: - September 6, 2022

This story originally appeared in Investigate Midwest.  In the weeks prior to leaving his role as U.S. Department of Agriculture chief of staff in January 2021, Joby Young received emails from lobbyists with links to private-industry jobs with titles like “director of government relations,” “project manager, environmental stewardship” and “director of crop insurance.” Private-sector job openings […]

OSHA requires JBS to implement disease preparedness measures at seven plants

By: - June 6, 2022

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is requiring JBS, one of the largest meatpacking companies in the country, to take steps to prevent future disease outbreaks at seven of its plants. The settlement announced Friday signals the resolution of two OSHA citations issued to JBS for failing to protect […]

Tyson Foods wrote draft of Trump order keeping meatpacking plants open during pandemic

By: - May 17, 2022

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest.  Lawyers for Tyson Foods, one of America’s largest meatpacking companies, drafted an early version of a 2020 executive order that allowed plants to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Congressional report based on company emails shows. It’s been reported that the meatpacking industry wrote a draft […]

E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens continue despite FDA, industry prevention efforts

By: - April 25, 2022

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest. After a series of E. coli outbreaks sickened more than 160 people who ate romaine lettuce in late 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation. Months later, in March 2020, the agency announced its plan to prevent toxic E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy […]

Meat companies lag behind other corporations in the food industry on sustainable water use

By: - February 28, 2022

This story was originally published on The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Water is critical to America’s meat habit. Cows, pigs and chickens drink it. Farmers clean barns and cool animals with it. Meatpackers sanitize plants and wash their product with it. But, most importantly, water grows the crops needed to feed the millions of […]

American Farm Bureau Federation claims it’s the ‘voice of agriculture.’ Others beg to differ

By: - February 15, 2022

This story was originally published as a collaboration between Investigate Midwest and Watchdog Writers Group. The American Farm Bureau Federation calls itself the “voice of agriculture,” a slogan it trademarked in 2007. But as the divide between agribusiness and small farmers has grown in recent decades, a unified voice of agriculture has become harder to […]

COVID-19 outbreak at Smithfield plant in Missouri likely larger than originally known

By: - May 17, 2021

This story was originally published on The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The COVID-19 outbreak at Smithfield Foods’ northern Missouri plant — the focus of a worker safety lawsuit that garnered national attention last year — resulted in two worker deaths and was worse than previously thought, according to newly obtained federal documents. Early on […]