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Giving Thanks to America’s Meatpacking Workers with Policy Change

Giving Thanks to America’s Meatpacking Workers with Policy Change

This Thanksgiving, many of our holiday meals would not be possible without the poultry plant workers who ensure Americans can put fresh turkey on our plates. But in spite of the vital role these workers play in our nation’s food production, many are still forced to endure dangerous, inhumane conditions, working tirelessly to keep up with the increased demand for poultry around the holiday season and facing an increased risk of contracting COVID.

That’s why we’re pleased to share that this week, Congress introduced the Protecting America’s Meatpacking Workers Act—a package of legislation to ensure dignity, safety and respect for meatpacking workers. This legislation will provide better workplace conditions in meatpacking plants by guaranteeing access to bathroom breaks, reasonable limits on line speeds, and more. Critically, it will also help put a stop to the abusive attendance policies that penalize too many meatpacking workers for lawful absences, especially pregnant workers and those with medical needs.

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The Anaerobic Digester at Barstow's Longview Farm

Video: The Anaerobic Digester at Barstow's Longview Farm

As more and more people discover the importance of healthy soil in relation to healthy plants, pastures and gardens, many are also discovering that manure is one of a farm’s most valuable resources. Cows, in particular, are extremely efficient converters of mature plant matter into nutrient-rich, highly degradable organic material. But fresh, or raw, manure can cause problems for the local ecosystem if it is not managed properly.

At Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, MA, Denise Barstow and family have taken an innovative approach to manure management. With 350 cows and heifers in their dairy herd, they have a bountiful supply of fresh manure each day, and also accept food waste from area grocery stores, restaurants and processors.

In the fall of 2015, the farm began a partnership with Vanguard Renewables which included the addition of an anaerobic digester. Barstow’s now has one of the largest and most modern anaerobic digestion systems in New England. The zero-waste, closed-loop, farm-powered anaerobic digester converts farm and food waste into electricity, heat, and fertilizer.

The 2,100 Mwh of electrical energy produced from the digester powers the farm and heats water to warm farm buildings and the family homes. The farm-powered anaerobic digester also provides enough energy to power 1,600 average Massachusetts homes in the surrounding community via the Eversource grid and to the Cabot Creamery/Agri-Mark Cooperative butter plant in West Springfield, Massachusetts, to which Barstow’s also supplies milk.

This video was created by Barstow's Longview Farm as a part of a NOFA/Mass MDAR Dairy Promotion Project highlighting the positive impacts on the environment by Massachusetts dairy farms