Madison McVan

Madison McVan

Madison McVan is a Report for America corps member who covers economic mobility for Minnesota Reformer. She previously covered agriculture for Investigate Midwest after graduating from the University of Missouri in 2020 with degrees in Journalism and Latin American studies.

Farm profits reached new heights last year, but are expected to drop in 2023

By: - September 15, 2023

As food prices rose around the country, so did farmers’ take-home pay. Net farm profits rose by 30% from 2021 to 2022, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the same time, food prices inflated by more than 10%. The USDA predicts farm incomes will drop by about 20% in 2023 […]

Cybersecurity at JBS was unusually poor before ransomware attack, records show

By: - June 15, 2023

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest.  A May 30, 2021, ransomware attack on JBS, one of the world’s largest meat companies, disrupted the company’s operations internationally and ended when the company paid an $11 million ransom to Russian hacker group REvil. While food production companies are potentially lucrative targets for cyberattacks, JBS was poorly […]

18 years and counting: EPA still has no method for measuring CAFO air pollution

By: - April 21, 2023

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest.  When gases from large livestock facilities overwhelm communities, the health impacts can be severe. Children at schools near concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are more likely to experience asthma. Exposure to ammonia and hydrogen sulfide — both emitted in large quantities by CAFOs — can lead to […]

Supreme Court denies Tyson Foods’ request to hear COVID death cases in federal court

By: - February 27, 2023

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest.  The U.S. Supreme Court last week denied a petition by Tyson Foods’ lawyers requesting that wrongful death suits brought by the families of four Tyson employees who died of COVID-19 be heard in federal court. Nearly three years after the employees of Tyson Foods’ Waterloo, Iowa, facilities […]

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 […]