poultry

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Editors note: This story was updated at 6 p.m. Sept. 18.

The Leavenworth County Commission on Monday morning backed off its support for a controversial chicken processing plant, throwing the future of the massive project into doubt.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Tyson Foods Inc. and Kansas officials unveiled plans Tuesday for a $300 million chicken facility outside Tonganoxie, a town about 15 miles northeast of Lawrence. The project will include a hatchery, feed mill and plant capable of processing more than 1 million birds per week.

Farmer Tim Mueller raises corn and soybeans in Columbus, Nebraska. He is hoping to get into the chicken business by signing a contract with a subsidiary of Costco.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.

The big box retailer Costco is building a new chicken processing plant in Fremont, about an hour from Mueller’s farm. The company plans for the plant to slaughter 2 million birds per week. To raise all those chickens, the company is recruiting about 120 farmers to sign on as contract poultry farmers.

From high-end restaurants to drive-through eateries, fried chicken is a staple on local menus. And some places are putting a spin on that nostalgic comfort dish.

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, we invite the chef from Blvd Tavern to talk about his Korean fried chicken, then the Food Critics uncover the best fried chicken dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

USDA / Flickr creative commons

Food safety regulators are hoping new rules will reduce the number of Americans sickened by salmonella bacteria found on the chicken they eat. Currently, salmonella is estimated to cause about 1 million illnesses a year.

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.

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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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