When it comes to the integrity of our food, no one knows the truth about food better than the farmers and workers who bring it to our tables. That’s why FIC is growing our Rural Partnerships campaign to increase our capacity and ability to respond to rural whistleblowers who reach out with urgent needs.
Our Rural Partnerships campaign is currently focused on the following initiatives:
Click to the “Full Story” to learn more about how FIC is working with rural partners to improve communities!
Food Integrity Campaign has been challenging high speed slaughter inspection since 2014. Originally, FIC and its coalition partners spoke out against the USDA’s proposed nationalization of its pilot program in poultry (HIMP). The expansion of the pilot program (New Poultry Inspection System) increases line speeds to 175 birds per minute giving meat inspectors only 1/3 of a second to inspect a carcass! It also gives duties, once belonging to federal inspectors, to plant workers themselves who feel unsafe speaking out against their employers. FIC received numerous concerns from USDA inspectors about the dangerous conditions in the HIMP pilot plants and their concerns that the program would expand and put consumers and plant workers at risk. You can read some of these concerns here.
FIC is currently fighting the increased poultry line speeds in court.
Not surprisingly, after pushing for faster poultry line speeds, the USDA also attempted to increase line speeds in pork. Under the guise of “modernization”, Trump’s Pork Rule privatizes the job duties of USDA inspectors and gives their work to untrained plant workers. Whistleblowers who work in the pilot pork inspection programs warn about faster line speeds, fewer inspectors, worse conditions for workers, and unnecessary harm to pigs—not to mention the gross things that find their way into your food.
FIC represents Jill Mauer, a meat inspector who is speaking out against increased pork line speeds.
The cap says it all – farmers are changing their minds about Big Ag. There was a time when farmers were completely confident in the maneuverings of this administration. But now, farmers are demanding a complete overhaul of the Big Ag system. Food Integrity Campaign calls the farmers who demand more the “Growing Resistance.”
Most chicken and many pork operations use contract growing, a model whereby companies control all of the inputs, including the food and animals. The farmers who “grow” the animals for the company are paid a pittance for the flock yield. Contract farmers have little to no say about how their operations are run, and it’s especially risky for them to speak out when they have concerns.
Fortunately, some brave farmer whistleblowers have come forward to expose Big Ag’s deceptive and retaliatory practices. But without regulatory safeguards from Trump’s administration, it is unlikely that companies will stop their exploitative business practices or allow farmers to safely speak out against wrongdoing.
What we eat and how our food is produced influences the climate, and the consequences of our food system are affecting our health. Public awareness is catching up to what whistleblowers and insiders have long known about the connections between food and climate change. There is still much more to uncover about how our government and the food industry should be held to account for the climate crisis.
Pesticides have long been used in agriculture. When it comes to environmental and health concerns, these chemicals are notorious culprits. Employees from the pesticide industry, people who live in the surrounding areas where the chemicals are applied, and federal regulators routinely seek FIC’s help in blowing the whistle on these potentially deadly products.
It is routine industry practice to use chemicals to reduce pathogens in meat products, and in poultry products particularly. FIC finds, however, that use of these chemicals can cause more harm than good.
America’s meat processing plants are dangerous workplaces, with an injury rate about five times higher than the national average. Fast line speeds, poor lighting, crowded workspaces and dangerous equipment contribute to the unsafe conditions in these facilities. But whistleblowers have shed light on a lesser-known health hazard that plant workers struggle with every day: the heavy use of chemical disinfectants that harm workers, and maybe consumers.
Consumers are asking questions about the food they eat: where it comes from and how it was processed. Yet when it comes to the treatment of animals, Big Ag has been notoriously secretive. Over the last decade, the use of undercover video as a means to show wrongdoing on factory farms and in meat processing has brought to light some disturbing truths. Whistleblower exposés have revealed neglect, inhumane practices and gross abuses. In response, consumers have expressed their disapproval. But instead of adopting more humane practices, animal agriculture is lobbying to enact state laws that criminalize the recording of cruelty to animals.
Essentially, Ag Gag makes it a crime to report a crime. Concerned advocates are speaking out against these offensive laws on behalf of truth-tellers and whistleblowers.