Earl Dotter / Oxfam America

Americans eat more chicken than any other meat, an average of 89 pounds a year.

That enormous demand for a high protein source that’s considered relatively inexpensive is literally feeding the $50 billion poultry industry. While many people are concerned with the welfare of meat animals, there appears to be little consumer concern for how the workers are treated.


Change is coming to the poultry industry, but not everyone is happy about it.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

Just as the local foods movement is growing legs in the Midwest, a key piece of infrastructure is struggling. 

Many small poultry processing plants have closed, in large part because of  challenges finding laborers and making a profit. Without the plants, small farmers say they won't be able to provide meat to local grocery stores and farmers markets.

In Iowa, poultry growers this year got an unexpected, and unwelcome, surprise right during poultry harvest time -- one of Iowa's three state-inspected poultry plants shut down.  

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