Autumn’s first frost is falling later. For farmers, the consequences are wide-ranging.

BY: - November 3, 2020

Halloween has come and gone. The clocks have been set back. Every evening darkness falls just a little bit earlier.  But for much of Virginia, the first frost still remains elusive.  Over the past century, the average date of the first frost has been moving progressively backward throughout the commonwealth, today landing a week or […]

Virginia officials backed off push to close Shore poultry plants for two weeks to fight pandemic

BY: - August 31, 2020

A legislative attempt to force Virginia to reveal more information about COVID-19 outbreaks in the state’s poultry plants and other workplaces, introduced after months of stonewalling from Virginia health officials and their insistence that the plants are entitled to privacy protections, stalled Wednesday with no prospect of being revived until 2021. The demise of the […]

Scientists identify 14 species among hundreds of mystery seeds sent to U.S.

BY: - August 3, 2020

Mustard. Cabbage. Morning glory. Mint. Sage. That’s not a shopping list for a visit to the plant nursery. It’s five of the types of seeds federal scientists have identified among the hundreds mailed to U.S. residents without warning over the past few weeks, largely in packaging containing Chinese writing.  According to the most recent update […]

Some Virginians are getting mystery seeds in the mail. Officials say don’t plant them.

BY: - July 24, 2020

Virginia is the latest state to report residents receiving unsolicited mysterious seeds in packets marked with Chinese writing, according to a release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Friday.  VDACS “has been notified that several Virginia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China,” the release […]

State defends refusal to release poultry plant COVID-19 information

BY: - July 10, 2020

The Virginia Department of Health defended its refusal to release information on COVID-19 outbreaks in poultry plants, saying the poultry plants don’t operate like long-term care facilities and the state has been able to identify cases among workers without having to notify the public. VDH previously cited a section of state code regarding privacy to […]

Virginia won’t release data on COVID-19 outbreaks at chicken plants, despite nursing home reversal

BY: - July 9, 2020

Virginia is refusing to release information on COVID-19 outbreaks at poultry processing plants on the grounds of privacy concerns, despite a June decision to provide such data for long-term care facilities. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Mercury in June after Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration began releasing facility-specific data […]


How states can use the pandemic to reform our meat supply chain

BY: - June 12, 2020

By M. James Faison COVID-19 has brought to the forefront fundamental issues within our food system; mainly that the “good” of providing inexpensive food is largely dependent on the “bad” of an exploitative agricultural system. As Americans, we have constructed a system that allows us to spend the smallest percentage of our household income on […]

State’s official Eastern Shore virus data still doesn’t show hundreds of poultry worker tests

BY: - May 22, 2020

A week after the results of widespread testing at the Eastern Shore’s Tyson and Perdue poultry plants revealed about 18 percent of workers were positive for coronavirus, state health statistics still don’t reflect the full case numbers and local officials have not been provided updated figures. Following nationwide outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plants, […]


On Chesapeake Bay pollution, Virginia should also take a look in the mirror

BY: - May 19, 2020

By Tom Pelton and Mariah Lamm With a Chesapeake Bay cleanup deadline bearing down in less than five years, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring yesterday joined his counterparts in Maryland and the District of Columbia in filing a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over its failure to enforce a landmark 2010 bay restoration agreement. Virginia […]


Trump, Northam pay lip service to safety for workers at meat processing plants

BY: - May 1, 2020

You can tell a lot about a person by assessing his priorities. So it’s clear President Donald Trump places a greater value on beef, pork and chicken than he does on human life. It could be due to his love for Quarter Pounders and other fast food.  Think that’s hyperbole? Consider this:  Trump hesitated to […]

CDC team headed to Virginia to help combat coronavirus spread in poultry plants

BY: - April 27, 2020

A team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been deployed to Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam, with the governors of Maryland and Delaware, sent a letter on Friday to President Donald Trump seeking assistance in combating coronavirus outbreaks at poultry plants on the Delmarva Peninsula, a major center of U.S. chicken […]

Meatpacking plants have become coronavirus hotspots across the U.S. In Virginia, no one’s giving workers much information.

BY: - April 27, 2020

As meatpacking plants across the United States become coronavirus hotspots, some Virginia poultry workers say that cases in the commonwealth’s processing facilities exceed company-provided figures and are not consistently revealed to employees. “Word of mouth was that we have maybe 10 or more cases up there, but us employees were only told about two cases,” […]