The Month in a Minute: February 2024

February’s top stories about climate, animals and health.

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February exposed some of the major environmental impacts of the dairy industry, as a new report exposed the methane impacts of California megadairies despite them raking in lucrative carbon credits. Meanwhile in Scotland, dairy farmers have been accused of radically damaging the landscape. Plus, following months of farmers’ protest, the EU backed down on new emissions standards for the ag sector, fearing that the protestors would vote for right-wing parties at the polls.

As high demand for donkey skin triggered concerns of extinction risk, the African Union has banned the slaughter of donkeys for their hide. And, McDonald’s in the U.S. has reached their cage-free egg commitment ahead of schedule while in the UK 16 percent of people now follow a meat-free diet.


Utah legislators passed a bill that prevents animals from being awarded legal personhood.

Segments of rope likely from a Maine water trap have been found inside a dead North Atlantic right whale.

A growing number of animal refuges are being forced to move in the face of extreme rainfall, droughts and hurricanes caused by the planet’s warming.

Here are more headlines that caught our attention this month:


There are fewer cattle in the U.S. right now than at any time since 1951, according to the most recent USDA data.

Octopuses are seen as smart and solitary. A seafood company plans to farm them commercially.

The way we produce meat and dairy is responsible for all sorts of damage, and taxpayers end up footing the bill.

Fish are taking to land thanks in large part to our insatiable appetite for seafood. The salmon industry plans to pack fish into land-locked tanks, at a massive energy and water cost.

Traditionally graded in person, soon meat can instead be graded using pictures of carcasses.


The new Census of Agriculture shows carbon-intensive farms and large, factory-scale animal operations are only getting bigger.

New research warns that the Amazon rainforest could collapse within the next 30 years due to climate change and man-made stressors like cattle ranching.

In the wake of a gutted Clean Water Act, some Iowans are taking steps to combat factory farm pollution in their state.

Scientists put tracking collars on polar bears. The data they gathered illuminates the challenges polar bears face as ice sheets continue to melt.

Beef production by three of the world’s biggest meatpackers has been linked to illegal deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado, according to campaigners.

Athian, a new carbon credit marketplace, has organized their first sale of carbon credits from a dairy farm — a big step toward dairy being called, erroneously, “climate friendly.”


The stench from a vessel loaded with cattle which engulfed Cape Town has drawn attention to the wider issue of live animal transport — sometimes across thousands of miles.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore is hoping to become just the second historically Black college to have a veterinary school in the U.S. by 2026.

The government failed to enforce workplace heat protections, so these Florida farmers took up the cause themselves and have now created the country’s strongest workplace heat rules.

A new documentary, The Smell of Money, chronicles the damage hog farm pollution has caused communities of Eastern North Carolina.

Law & Justice

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is urging Congress to take action on Prop 12 warning that failing to do so could lead to “chaos in the U.S. meat marketplace.”

Three animal rights activists face a 9-year prison sentence for their open rescue of three beagles raised for a future of lab testing.

Environmental advocates hope that the Farm Bill will help shed some light on just how much carbon can be stored in soil, because the science has yet to show much in the way of results, despite the practice often being touted as a climate solution.

An ecologist who spent 36 years with New South Wales Fisheries says scientists working for the government are ‘aghast’ at the state of the Darling River but can’t speak publicly.

The Labor Department has issued a temporary restraining order against a meatpacking cleaning company for alleged “oppressive child labor” practices in two states.

Future of Food

Legislation has been introduced to keep cultivated meat out of schools. The legislators cite concerns over the unknown health impacts of the emerging products despite cultivated meat being cellularly the same as meat from animals.

Upside Foods is putting plans for its Illinois-based cultivated-meat factory on hold and laying off staff to focus on its one existing plant.

For the first time products made with animal-free milk protein will be available in Canada following the Health Department’s approval of an option made from modified yeast.

Factory farms are spreading and bringing their pollution with them. Now the UK’s rivers are facing destruction
The steep incline of food prices has finally started to slow both at home and in restaurants.

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