In the News: December 2022

Child Labor in Minnesota

The Washington Post reports that federal labor investigators indicate a company illegally employed dozens of children at Midwestern meatpacking plants, including those in Worthington and Marshall, Minnesota. Spanish-speaking teenagers as young as 13 worked overnight shifts cleaning meat-cutting machines, and some suffered chemical burns as a result. (No paywell version of the story.)

A Traditional Viewpoint

Minnesota Reformer’s Max Nesterak pointed out the traditional perspective of new Republican minority leader Sen. Mark Johnson, explaining why the Minnesota GOP will remain focused on crime:

“Mom’s going to the store. Dad’s going to work. How do we make them feel safer?”

Lack of Transparency in Farm Subsidies

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting wrote that a U.S. Department of Agriculture program in 2018 and 2019 paid more than $23 billion through the Market Facilitation Program, but failed to make sure the money was going to the farmers who needed it. The USDA’s own internal auditors found the agency sent more than $800 million to farms “improperly” — such as to recipients who didn’t qualify for aid.

Less than four percent of the funds went to historically underserved farmers, including low-income, racial minority, veteran, and beginning farmers. At least $163 million went to high-income farms and individuals making more than $900,000 per year.

Pipeline Damage

According to MPR, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has identified three sites where Enbridge Inc. damaged aquifers while constructing the Line 3 pipeline, causing nearly 300 million gallons of uncontrolled flows of groundwater. The company has paid more than $3 million for the violations so far.

Volunteer experts with Waadookawaad Amikwag, an independent monitoring group, report that there is ecological damage at more than 45 sites across the headwaters of the Red River of the North, the Mississippi River, and the Saint Louis River and Lake Superior Watersheds.