TIME

Can big agriculture ever go green?

ON APRIL 12, A MEAT-PROCESSING plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., owned by Smithfield Foods shut down after hundreds of employees contracted coronavirus. The closure was hardly unique. Food-processing plants are tinderboxes for infection because employees work in close proximity and often need to shout, spraying droplets that can be laced with the virus. Cargill, Tyson and other major industry players closed about two dozen poultry-, pork- and beef-processing centers over the following weeks as workers fell ill. In April and May, more than 17,000 industry workers tested positive for COVID-19 and 91 died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The impact rippled to grocers, who struggled to stock certain items, and to restaurants like Wendy’s, which temporarily changed its menu at some locations to compensate for beef shortages. At

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