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Electric bus movement looks to accelerate; Macron says he has not ruled out using Western troop to help Ukraine stand-up to Russia; two rural Iowa newspapers saved from extinction; BLM announces added protections for sensitive Oregon landscape.

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Speaker Johnson commits to avoiding a government shutdown. Republican Senators call for a trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And a Democratic Senator aims to ensure protection for IVF nationwide.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

Another Legal Challenge Filed Over New Pork Processing Rules

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Thursday, January 16, 2020   

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A federal lawsuit was filed this week over recent changes to how safety inspections are handled at pork processing plants.

It follows a separate federal suit filed in Minnesota last fall.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised how inspections are handled at slaughterhouses by essentially handing most of those duties over to the companies themselves.

Ryan Talbott, a staff attorney at Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit, says shifting that responsibility opens the door to food-borne illnesses.

"It's safe to say that once you have the slaughter plant employees, who have no mandatory minimum training or education requirements, taking on the roles of trained federal inspectors -- this is a recipe for disaster," he states.

The USDA says the changes are intended to modernize the pork processing system. Many in the pork industry also support the changes, saying they will bring more efficiencies.

Last fall, several labor unions filed a federal lawsuit in Minnesota over provisions that remove maximum line speeds when bringing hogs to slaughter. That suit contends the changes compromise worker safety, as well as food safety.

Talbott says the threat to pork products sold in the U.S. would not be on a small scale. He says this could affect consumers in a big way.

"The government's expecting several dozen pork slaughter plants to adopt these rules, which is probably going to cover more than 90% of pork that's sold in commerce," he states. "So, the effects are going to be felt nationally."

The latest suit asks the court to dismiss the new rules. A hearing in the lawsuit filed in Minnesota is scheduled for later this month.


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