The Month in a Minute: May 2023

May’s top stories in agriculture, climate and our food system in 60 seconds.

Month in a Minute: May 2023

Analysis Month in a Minute

Words by

This month brought a legal victory for animal advocates as the Supreme Court upheld California’s Proposition 12 and the state’s right to regulate animal welfare. Plus, Tyson stock dropped 12 percent, as pork and chicken demand fell and drought killed cattle. And undercover footage revealed a Tyson farm manager saying not all ‘free-range’ birds get to go outside. 


The Department of Labor investigated child labor violations by a Minnesota slaughterhouse sanitation company, which is continuing to lose contracts in the wake of the news.

The Supreme Court court declined to hear a challenge of California’s foie gras ban.

A new survey found that cultivated protein startups need more scientists and investment.

A new report by the Norwegian Food Agency questions whether whaling can align with animal welfare laws, finding that hunted whales took an average of 11.5 minutes to die in 2022.

Top meat producer JBS reported a $290 million loss in the first quarter, due in part to an oversupply of meat.

Meanwhile, the poultry industry set its sights on the ‘climavore’ market.

Plant-based company Oatly offered free advertising for dairy producers that reveal their climate impacts.

A dairy ad starring actor Aubrey Plaza sparked backlash, but it is only one of many industry attempts to battle consumer distrust with celebrity marketing.

And: Sentient Media launched a new limited series of essays, Indigenous Voices for Saving Animals and Earth. Plus, we welcomed journalists to our Food & Farming Media Network.

The following stories also caught our attention this month:


A Washington Post editorial urged the U.S. government to “stop paying wealthy farmers,” with net farming income projected to reach $136.9 billion this year.

40 million people depend on the Colorado River, but 56 percent of its water (1,064 billion gallons) goes to livestock, reveals a New York Times infographic.

A new study finds intensive agriculture is the driving cause of Europe’s decline in birds.

Plus, a Tyson-led project received $61 million from the USDA for ‘climate-smart’ Brazen Beef, which the company claims can emissions by 10 percent.

And: Tyson increased production by 50 percent at a Kentucky meat plant, with an $83 million expansion.

Meanwhile, New York state launched a $5 million grant program, some of which will go to expanding meat processors.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak opposed chlorinated chicken or beef produced with hormones in any future trade deals.

The sex of chicks can be determined prior to hatching, reports Vox, offering an alternative to grinding billions of male hatchlings alive in the egg industry.

Animal protection groups petitioned the USDA to require cameras where pigs are stunned or gassed in slaughterhouses.

And: the USDA will bailout the West Coast seafood industry by purchasing $52 million worth of its products.

Rising demand caused bison meat production to increase by 8.5 percent from 2021 to 2022.

Foreign-owned companies have sparked controversy over the $1 billion fish farming industry growing in Tasmania.

In Spain, animal advocates protested the construction of a farm that would raise 3 million octopuses for food.

A bug factory farm aims to produce 15,000 tons of insect meat per year for ‘sustainable’ aquaculture feed.

But: a think tank predicted aquaculture would have to become ‘regenerative’ and secure $55 billion to meet the world’s demand in 2050.

And Cargill plans to build a $20 million cattle feed supplement plant in Brazil.

History Channel examined the impacts of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle on our food system.

Primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall called for an end to factory farming for its “extreme cruelty” to animals and “unsustainable demands on the natural world.”

Philosopher Peter Singer argued that the treatment of farmed animals has not improved much in the past 50 years — and that a “paradox” keeps welfare-conscious consumers eating meat.

Plus, in an op-ed for the Guardian, author George Monbiot explored how we can improve the intensive farming on which our food system has become dependent.

Colorado approved a plan to reintroduce wolves in the state, but it remains unclear how they will be protected from livestock interests.

The health of the River Wye, long polluted by chicken factory farming, is worsening, according to watchdog group Natural England.

An exhibition highlighted photographer Sophie Gamand’s images of dogs rescued from meat farms.

Plant-based companies must counter disinformation perpetuated by animal agriculture, wrote Brian Kateman.

And the U.S. imports 90 percent of its shrimp supply, reports Mashed, mostly from Southeast Asia.


Behind the Dublin Declaration, a new report that concluded meat, dairy and eggs are essential, are close industry ties.

A Vox explainer took a close look at the Supreme Court’s ruling on Proposition 12, and why more would be needed to change the lives of farmed animals.

A new report found commonly used pesticides are contaminated with “potentially dangerous” levels of forever chemicals.

New research linked plant-based diets to reduced cholesterol levels and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The World Organization for Animal Health advised governments to vaccinate poultry against avian flu to prevent a new pandemic.

The U.S. is testing four poultry vaccines, including two developed by the USDA. 

Plus: Brazil declared an emergency and increased its monitoring of the world’s top poultry industry, amid outbreaks in wild birds.

Two UK poultry workers became infected with avian flu, although no human-to-human spread was found.

And: a UK bird protection group asked for a moratorium on releasing pheasants and partridges for hunting to limit the influenza’s spread.

The FAO is seeking alternatives to antimicrobial use in farmed animals with treatment-resistant illnesses on the rise.

Meanwhile, Psychology Today explored the disconnect between our diets and increased pandemic risk.

Beyond Steak became certified as heart-healthy by the American Heart Association.

Consumer distrust of mRNA vaccines has slowed their use to prevent disease in animals raised for food.

Rising wild meat consumption among wealthy populations is increasing pandemic risks while threatening hundreds of species with extinction, reports National Geographic.

Bon Appétit reported many vegetarians quickly resume eating meat for social or cultural reasons. Yet, recent research shows 72 percent of Gen Z consumers plan to be vegan for at least five years.

The COP28 climate conference may devote attention to the health impacts of climate change and the need to change our food system.

A new medication could be used on vulnerable crops, potentially exacerbating the rise of antifungal-resistance in humans.

Iowa will spend $750,000 to prepare its pig industry for potential outbreaks of deadly African Swine Fever.

The New York Times explored how ultra processed foods can impact brain health, but “processed” has become a buzzword that does not always mean much.

Plus: a new study found that coyotes fleeing predators often end up in danger in human-populated areas, including farmland.


At the AIM for Climate Summit, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced over $13 billion in funding for ‘climate-smart agriculture.’ 

Plus: the USDA will double its backing of enteric methane research to $10 billion.

Meanwhile, a new study found that just 13 percent of methane is covered by global policies to reduce emissions.

A beef industry climate messaging course is intended to “confuse, defend and downplay,”  writes Joe Fassler for the Guardian.

Also in the Guardian: Fassler debunks climate myths promoted by the beef industry, from downplaying methane to making fossil fuels the lone scapegoat.

A 98-member coalition urged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to “reject meat industry meddling” in UN reports.

A new study concluded that cultivated meat production would emit more CO2 than beef, contrary to previous research showing it could reduce emissions and pollution.

Meanwhile, poultry industry marketing targeted ‘climavores’ and claimed a decreasing carbon footprint and lighter impact compared to beef.

And: Vox warns a newly-reduced UN estimate of livestock emissions at 11 percent only includes the sector’s direct emissions — not positive impacts of rewilding farmland. 

Researchers found using scarce pig fat waste as jet fuel could exacerbate the use of high-emission palm oil by other industries.

The EU approved a $1.61 billion buyout for Dutch farms, an attempt to reduce nitrogen emissions.

And development banks are investing in ‘more sustainable’ pork and poultry.

A new study tied agricultural activities to an increased extinction risk for 7,143 species.

Plus: an AI chatbot named reducing consumption of animal products as the top way to combat extinction. 

Fertilizer emits 2.6 gigatons of carbon annually, but ‘kicking our cow habit’ is part of the answer, reports Anthropocene.

Freshwater fish containing ‘forever chemicals’ have been found in almost every U.S. state.

Apparel company Patagonia will back the publishing of a book criticizing the impacts of salmon farming.

Plus: the aquaculture industry is trying to reduce its environmental footprint with alternatives to fishmeal and soy, such as algae oil and single-cell proteins.

Prompted by students, college campuses are shifting to more sustainable plant-rich menus.

A new analysis found that climate solutions need to go beyond tree planting to include rewilding of pasture and other lands.

Over 60 environmental violations were found at Oregon’s Easterday Dairy, including fertilizer leaks and nitrogen runoffs.

A Norwegian company claims its ‘virtual fences’ could make meat and dairy production more sustainable, but many sustainability assertions around grazing have been disproven.

The New Republic explores mass animal die-offs, likely to increase due to climate change.

Law & Justice

A ruling by the Ninth Circuit court ordered the U.S. Forest Service to reconsider its approval of opening part of Tonto National Forest to cattle grazing.

A legal complaint claims Cargill has failed to stop deforestation and human rights violations in its Brazilian soy supply chain.

47 ammonia leaks occurred at Tyson meat plants from 2012-2021 — when nearly six in 10 ammonia-related injuries were linked to Tyson, according to CNN analysis of EPA data.

The FBI launched an investigation into the release of 10,000 minks from fur farms.

A new lawsuit alleges factory farm pollution is violating the civil rights of North Carolina residents.

And a Colorado court ruled that the state failed to prevent water pollution from CAFOs.

Poultry producer Sanderson Farms agreed to settle price-fixing allegations for $17.75 million.

An aquaculture industry group was granted the right to challenge a lawsuit aimed at banning net-pen fish farming in Washington state.

Professor David Favre opined on how the Supreme Court’s Prop 12 ruling could bring about new animal welfare legislation.

Seaboard Foods was recognized for worker safety, but workers at the same pork plant have alleged their serious injuries went ignored.

A Los Angeles student sued her high school and the USDA for violating the First Amendment by not allowing her to speak about the harms of dairy consumption.

Future of Food

Fenn Foods believes it is Australia’s first carbon-neutral plant-based foods producer.

Researchers created an edible plant-based scaffold for cheaper cultivated meat.

Steakholder Foods produced the world’s first 3D-printed cultivated fish filet.

Plus: U.S. seafood sales are dropping as millennials and consumers who occasionally eat fish are buying less.

And: Mosa Meats opened its 30,000-sq ft. cultivated protein plant, aiming for price parity with conventional meat.

Forbes profiled women leaders in food tech, including cultivated and plant-based protein.

Plus: new animal-free foods debuted at the Vegan Women Summit, including oyster and wagyu beef alternatives.

Black Americans are switching to plant-based diets at a faster rate than the rest of the nation, reports Essence, interviewing Tracye McQuirter, founder of 10 Million Black Vegan Women.

Miyoko’s Creamery and its founder Miyoko Schinner settled legal complaints against each other.

Biomilq’s cultivated human breast milk could help tackle the U.S. formula shortage, but the startup still has to reduce costs and obtain regulatory approval.

Eat Just, Finless Foods, and other companies visited Capitol Hill to encourage federal investment in cultivated and plant-based foods.

Meanwhile, Prime Roots secured $30 million to scale up production of plant-based deli meats.

Plus: As Beyond Meat sought $200 million in funding, the Washington Post editorial board wrote alt-meat producers need to improve taste, texture and price — and focus more on vegetables.

The UK could soon side with dairy industry lobbyists by restricting the labeling of plant-based foods. 

And in Texas, a new law will do just that.

A limited PBS series explored “Minnesota’s Alt-Meat Revolution,” including pea protein maker PURIS.

Los Angeles restaurants are serving fish-free sushi amid its rising popularity.

And: there are now 156 startups devoted to cultivated meat, with almost 20 added in 2022, but investment in the industry dropped 33 percent.

Universities around the world are shifting towards more sustainable plant-rich menus.

Mushroom-based meat alternatives grew popular on restaurant menus, for their flavor and health benefits.

Plant milk sales dropped 3.6 percent in the last year, reports the Guardian, and producers cannot yet match dairy’s prices.

3D Bio-Tissues claims to have made the first cultivated animal leather with no need to kill cattle.

Plus: Dole’s pineapple waste is being used to make a plant-based leather alternative.

Support Us

Independent Journalism Needs You

Donate » -opens in new tab. Donate via PayPal More options »