U.S. Agriculture

Mighty Earth responds to Tyson Announcement of Partnership to Implement Sustainable Feed Sourcing Commitment

Nine months after announcing its commitment to improve sustainability practices for 2 million acres of its animal feed, Tyson has released details on how it will begin implementing this goal. Tyson Foods has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund to pilot sustainable farming practices on 500,000 acres of U.S. corn, and publicly communicate its progress. While still lacking substantial details, this announcement is an important step towards providing transparency and insight into Tyson’s plans for making its supply chain more sustainable.

“Industrial meat production is one of the most polluting activities on the planet- causing significant water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and destruction of native ecosystems like grasslands and forests” noted Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz. “As one of the world’s largest meat producers, Tyson has significant influence over farming practices used to raise meat and has a responsibility to put agriculture on a more sustainable path."

Tyson has faced growing public scrutiny and concern about the environmental devastation being caused by its supply chain, which is driving widespread water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the United States. The bulk of Tyson’s environmental impact comes from producing the vast quantities of grain used in animal feed, as well as the disposal of manure.

"In order to drive real improvements, Tyson must require all suppliers to use farming practices like cover cropping, fertilizer efficiency, conservation tillage, and native ecosystem protections for growing animal feed, and adopt a responsible manure management policy that prevents further contamination of our nation’s waters," said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Lucia von Reusner.

Mighty Earth has been leading a nation-wide campaign to raise public awareness and mobilize pressure on Tyson to improve farming practices for feed and manure that would reduce water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have joined the campaign, as have shareholders concerned about the growing risks to Tyson from ongoing water pollution.

See more about Mighty Earth’s #CleanItUpTyson campaign here.

Thousands of Customers & Community Leaders Urge Whole Foods to Set Environmental Standards for Meat

Mighty Earth, a global environmental non-profit, delivered over 160,000 petitions to Whole Foods managers today in Austin TX; Chicago, IL; Fayetteville, AR; and Minneapolis, MN. These petitions have been signed by over 7,200 local residents and 160,000 global customers (via two online petitions), urging Whole Foods to set clear environmental standards for the meat sold in stores and to stop selling from highly polluting companies like Tyson and Cargill.

This petition delivery comes on the heels of Thanksgiving-themed rallies held in front of Whole Foods stores across the country last month, representing a coalition of 180 organizations committed to promoting sustainable food in their communities.

“It is clear that customers expect high sustainability standards when they shop at Whole Foods, and are shocked to find out dollars are being directed to some of the most polluting companies in the world when they buy meat,” said Mighty Earth Organizer in Austin, TX Lucas Judson. “Whole Foods needs to live up to their sustainable branding and set clear environmental standards for their meat.”

A report released by Mighty Earth found that Whole Foods has no environmental standards for the meat it buys, and that the company is sourcing from companies ranked by the EPA as among the top water polluters in the country- including Tyson Foods and Cargill, the same suppliers used by McDonald’s. The bulk of this pollution comes from toxins washing off fields that produce feed for Whole Foods meat, as well as irresponsibly managed manure that is often dumped directly into waterways across the United States. This pollution could be dramatically reduced through more sustainable farming practices for producing feed and managing manure, yet the industry has so far resisted adopting these reforms.

“As one of America’s largest grocery stores that buys large quantities of meat, Whole Foods has significant leverage to require meat suppliers to use environmentally responsible farming practices that keep our waters clean and communities healthy- and the public expects them to use it” noted Anya Fetcher, a resident and campaign volunteer for Mighty Earth in Austin, TX.

The McWholeFoods campaign is working to educate and mobilize customers across the country to demand Whole Foods strengthen its sustainability standards for meat suppliers to reduce water and climate pollution. Despite growing calls from customers, Whole Foods has so far refused to respond to the demands of hundreds of thousands of customers that they set environmental standards for meat. Campaigners will be meeting with store managers in Chicago, IL; Fayetteville, AR; Austin, TX; and Minneapolis, MN to deliver petitions and request a response from the company executive headquarters.

Webinar: How Companies Can Clean Up Their Meat Supply Chains

Webinar: How Companies Can Clean Up Their Meat Supply Chains

In November, Mighty Earth hosted a discussion on environmental degradation caused by meat production across the United States, the key stakeholders impacted, and the solutions companies need to adopt to reduce the most urgent environmental and public health consequences of this supply chain.


Lucia von Reusner, Mighty Earth Mary

Beth Gallagher, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment

Tarah Heinzen, Food & Water Watch

McWholeFoods ... We're Not Loving It #CleanUpMeat

McWholeFoods ... We're Not Loving It #CleanUpMeat

Few activities cause as much damage to land, water, and the climate as industrial meat production. That includes the meat that ends up as McDonald’s burgers and Whole Foods steak. These companies have no environmental requirements for the meat they buy, and both sell their customers meat from some of the most destructive and polluting companies on Earth: Cargill and Tyson. Cargill and Tyson are responsible for driving massive destruction of rainforests in South America, water pollution in the Midwest, and an enormous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

McDonald’s and Whole Foods play important roles in our food system, deciding what kind of meat ends up on our menus and dinner tables and setting the standards for how that meat is produced. These companies have a unique ability and responsibility to make sure meat suppliers are using sustainable farming practices to keep our waters clean and forests intact. Yet both are turning a blind eye to the uncontrolled environmental devastation taking place in their meat supply chains and directing customer dollars to some of the worst offenders.

You wouldn’t know it from the menu board, but the burgers and McNuggets sold at McDonald’s are typically prepared by Cargill and Tyson. McDonald’s ranks among the largest meat buyers in the world. As Cargill’s single largest customer and one of the largest fast-food companies – and meat sellers – in the world, McDonald’s is one of the most powerful levers available for moving Cargill and Tyson to clean up their meat.

More surprisingly than that, despite its green branding, chicken and beef sold at Whole Foods also comes from the same sources as McDonalds – Tyson and Cargill. Whole Foods has built a global brand based on promising their trusting customers that their products are sustainable and come from responsible suppliers. Yet, Whole Foods has no environmental standards for its meat and is buying from some of the most polluting companies on the planet.

Industrial meat is a leading driver of climate change and is responsible for about 15% of global climate pollution. Eighty percent of global agricultural land is dedicated to raising meat, equivalent to about a third of our planet’s total. In South America, commodity crop farming (i.e., soy monocultures) and cattle grazing are the leading causes of deforestation, and in the U.S., industrial meat production is the single largest source of water pollution. But this destruction can be avoided by using more sustainable farming practices. It is possible to produce food at a large scale without destroying forests, climate, and water, yet Cargill and Tyson are continuing to advanced the same practices of pollution and destruction around the world. Customers must and are demanding better.

Join Us!

Now we need McDonald’s and Whole Foods to act because their biggest suppliers are destroying wild forests and contaminating our water. As high-profile companies with extreme market power McDonald’s and Whole Foods can get unaccountable companies like Cargill and Tyson to make positive change by setting clear standards requiring responsible practices from suppliers.

Mighty Earth has deployed six campaigners across the continental United States, including Chicago, Illinois; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Austin, Texas. Our campaigners are educating customers, securing media coverage, and organizing grassroots support. They have already collected 3500 petitions from concerned citizens and held community meetings where over 100 people came to learn more about the issue and take action to clean up meat!

Join us in telling McDonald’s and Whole Foods to stop selling meat from Cargill and Tyson until they make concrete steps to end deforestation and pollution.

Shoot us a note to get involved – [email protected].

To-Do List for New Tyson CEO: Fulfill Sustainability Commitments

Stepping in as the new CEO of one of the world’s largest meat companies, Noel White will be faced with executing on Tyson’s widely applauded vision to become ‘the most sustainable protein company in the world.’ Mr. White has a decade-long tenure leading pork, poultry, beef, and international business growth at Tyson, which makes him well-positioned to execute on the commitments made by his visionary predecessor Tom Hayes to improve the company’s farming practices and environmental impact

“Under Tom Hayes, Tyson made bold and urgently needed commitments to position itself as a leader on sustainability in the industry,” noted Mighty Earth’s Campaign Director Lucia von Reusner. “The transition in leadership raises questions about Tyson’s future direction, but it is clear that the market is demanding more sustainable farming practices. Mr. White’s decade long experience within Tyson means he is well positioned to turn the company’s sustainability rhetoric into real action across the company’s global supply chain.”

Meat production has a larger environmental impact than almost any other human activity. Animal agriculture takes up 80 percent of the world’s agricultural land and 30 percent of global freshwater.  This industry, which Tyson shaped and dominates around the world, is also responsible for 60 percent of global biodiversity loss and at least 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

In the United States, meat production is the leading source of water pollution, contaminating drinking water and causing a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that spans up to 8,000 square miles- the size of New Jersey- each year. Globally, the largest meat and dairy companies—including Tyson Foods— rank among the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, comparable to Exxon, Shell, and BP.

Mighty Earth is leading a nation-wide campaign that is calling on Tyson Foods to use its influence in the market to drive more sustainable agricultural practices for feed sourcing, manure management, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions throughout its supply chain.  Tyson is facing pressure from shareholders, customers, local farming communities, and the public to adopt practices that reduce the company’s environmental impacts.

Responding to public demand for more sustainable food options, Tyson has announced several industry-leading commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve farming practices for feed production, in addition to investing in cleaner meat products. However, so far these commitments have not included details on how they will be implemented or verified to ensure that Tyson’s supply chain actually becomes more sustainable.


Local residents gather to send Tyson Foods a message: “Don’t Tread on Tennessee”

Around 80 residents of Haywood County and several neighboring West Tennessee communities gathered at a town hall meeting this month to send a clear message to Tyson Foods: “Don’t Tread on Tennessee.”

Attendees expressed concern about water and air pollution associated with Tyson’s expanding poultry operations in the region, and many shared their frustrations over the complete deregulation of the poultry industry in TN over the past several years. Others called for “big state government” to get off the backs of local governments seeking to enforce more stringent zoning regulations for industrial poultry operations than what the state compels.

Tyson’s Tennessee expansion comes after citizens of Tonganoxie, Kansas protested and rejected the company’s $320 million proposal to build a new chicken processing plant in their region. Citizens of Tonganoxie, Kansas cited concerns about the social and environmental impacts of the company’s proposal, including water pollution risks, as grounds for the rejection.

In May, Tyson broke ground on an industrial poultry processing plant in Gibson County, TN without complete permits from the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. Tyson also plans to increase capacity at its Union City processing plant in nearby Obion County. According to Tyson, these two plants will process an estimated 120 million chickens each year and will require an additional 587 industrial chicken houses that will generate significant quantities of manure and other air, water, and public health pollutants. This expansion is set to occur along significant tributaries of the Mississippi River that are already classified as impaired by the EPA due to runoff pollution from industrial agriculture operations.

Natalie Pinner, a sixth-generation farm owner from Haywood County, discussed how Tyson growers from Arkansas recently tried to buy two neighboring properties on both sides of her family farm. “I don’t think when they came to Haywood County they realized we were going to put up this kind of fight,” said Pinner. “We do everything as a community and I just want them to realize we’re not standing for it.”

Other attendees included state Rep. Johnny Shaw, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, President and CEO of the Brownsville/Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Steve Hilton, and a number of candidates for county mayor, county commission, and state representative. In the week following the town hall, two major opponents to Tyson’s expansion were elected to local office: David Livingston was elected Mayor of Haywood County, and Sharon Hayes was elected to the Haywood County Commission, which oversees local zoning.

“Tyson has a long track record of ignoring concerns from local communities about water and public health risks from its operations and pushing clean-up costs for its pollution onto taxpayers,” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “Given the company’s poor reputation on the environment and community health, it’s no surprise that local residents in Tennessee don’t want Tyson as a neighbor.”

Flunking the Planet: America’s Leading Food Companies Fail on Sustainable Meat

Flunking the Planet: America’s Leading Food Companies Fail on Sustainable Meat

A new report from Mighty Earth found widespread failure across the food industry to address the environmental impacts of the meat supply chain, and provides recommendations for how companies can improve. “Flunking the Planet: Scoring America’s Food Companies on Sustainable Meat” found that none of the 23 major brands surveyed — representing the largest fast food, grocery, and food service companies in the U.S. — have policies in place to require even minimal environmental protections from meat suppliers. The scorecard evaluates environmental standards related to feed sourcing, manure management, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Meat is one of the most environmentally polluting products in the world — responsible for widespread water pollution, climate emissions, and the destruction of native ecosystems like rainforests and prairies. “Flunking the Planet” evaluated leading companies who have built their brand on providing sustainable options, such as Whole Foods, have no environmental standards for their meat, and in fact are buying from some of the most polluting companies in the country, including Tyson Foods and Cargill.

  • Nineteen companies had no sustainability commitments for mitigating the environmental impacts of their sourced meat whatsoever. They all received an “F,” both for their overall scores and the individual scores for each highlighted issue.
  • Walmart was the only company to earn above a failing grade, with an overall score of “D” for its supply-chain greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal, as well as agricultural programs focused on improving practices for corn and soy production and manure management.
  • The food service industry that caters meals to universities and hospitals is doing the most to promote plant-based diets, with Aramark reporting that 30 percent of its menus offer non-meat options and Sodexo reducing beef consumption through its mushroom-blended burger initiative.



These companies serve our meals and sell us groceries, and they have significant control over the kind of meat that ends up on our dinner tables. Grocery stores like Walmart and Whole Foods and meal outlets like McDonald’s and Burger King have the power to set and enforce standards requiring better farming practices from suppliers. With customers, investors, and agricultural communities increasingly concerned about the meat industry’s environmental devastation, food companies need to demand better from their meat suppliers and provide customers with more sustainable options.

Meaty Consequences of Industrial Farming

Runoff pollution from industrial farms that produce animal feed is the main source of water contamination across the United States and causes a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico each summer. According to a recent report, the top five meat companies, including Tyson Foods and Cargill, emit more greenhouse gases combined than Exxon-Mobil, Shell, or BP. The meat industry is also responsible for widespread destruction of native ecosystems, as new industrial agriculture expands onto rainforests and prairies around the world.


Mighty Earth’s reports ‘Mystery Meat I’ and ‘Mystery Meat II’ investigate and reveal the environmental devastation driven by the meat industry, and the companies responsible. These reports show that a small handful of powerful agribusinesses like Tyson and Cargill dominate the meat supply chain, and bare primary responsibility for driving the negative impacts as well as delivering solutions at scale. Click here to learn more about our work to hold the industry responsible for its environmental impacts in the United States and Latin America.

Whole Foods refuses to accept petitions over pollution by meat suppliers


AUSTIN –A coalition of farmers, doctors and environmental leaders were shocked when Whole Foods management refused to accept delivery of 95,000 petition signatures tasking the company to hold its corporate meat suppliers accountable for the widespread water contamination caused by their irresponsible farming and waste management practices. The attempted petition drop follows three letters sent to the company in the last several months - all of which have been ignored by the company.

"I’ve done dozens of petition drops to corporations and politicians over two decades and never has one refused to accept petitions from the public," said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas. "I really am stunned that a company which purports to social responsibility wouldn't even let us drop off petitions signed by their customers."

“Many of Whole Foods’ customers probably don’t know that the chain is selling meat produced by industrial agricultural practices that are contaminating our water and destroying our last remaining prairies and wetlands,” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “Whole Foods needs to hold its meat suppliers accountable for cleaning up their practices, or drop them from the shelves.”

Whole Foods buys and resells meat from several of the large agribusiness corporations that were most responsible for causing last year’s record-breaking “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Today’s petition calls on Whole Foods to ensure that its suppliers, including Tyson Foods and Cargill, protect waterways and natural ecosystems from excess fertilizer and manure pollution that washes off from farms and feedlots.

“Water pollution doesn’t just come from factories — it can come from farms too,” said Brian Zabcik, Clean Water Advocate at Environment Texas. “In fact, the state’s environmental agency has found that agricultural runoff is one of the top reasons why many Texas streams, lakes, and bays have poor water quality.”

Last year Mighty Earth released a report, “Mystery Meat: The Industry Behind the Quiet Destruction of the American Heartland,” that identified the companies most responsible for creating the agricultural runoff pollution that contaminates waterways and drinking water supplies. The bulk of this pollution comes from producing the vast quantities of corn and soy feed used to raise livestock, as well as mismanaged manure that washes into streams and rivers. Environment Texas released a report in 2016, “Corporate Agribusiness and the Fouling of America’s Waterways,” that detailed many of the same problems.


About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental organization that works to protect native ecosystems, address climate change, and conserve oceans. Mighty Earth’s team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. Mighty Earth is a fiscally sponsored a project of the Center for International Policy, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at https://www.mightyearth.org/.

About Environment Texas

Environment Texas advocates for clean air, clean water, and preservation of Texas’ natural areas on be- half of 35,000 members and online activists statewide.


Tyson Responds to Environmental Campaign and Public Pressure, Addresses Pollution in Supply Chain

Responding to mounting pressure from local communities impacted by its pollution, investors, customers, and the environmental community, Tyson Foods has announced a commitment to improve farming practices on two million acres of grain by 2020. This commitment will include efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural runoff pollution from grains grown for animal feed, although the specifics and implementation plan have not yet been made public. Tyson’s commitment would cover about half of its U.S. feed supply chain.

“Tyson has begun to acknowledge the persistent calls for change from its customers, investors, and communities across America,” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “This latest set of commitments are the direct result of thousands of Americans raising their voices and pushing Tyson to take responsibility for the environmental and health consequences of the factory farm system it pioneered. The devil is in the details and Tyson still needs to lay out the specifics of this new commitment- but if Tyson is indeed willing to lead, the broader meat industry will have to follow.”

Tyson Foods is America’s largest meat company and has significant influence over farming practices throughout its meat and feed supply chain. The meat industry is the leading source of water contamination in the country, with pollution from manure and feed production contaminating drinking water and productive waterways across the country.Mighty Earth released an investigation last summer linking Tyson’s supply chain to widespread water pollution and the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans across the Midwest, Gulf of Mexico, and Chesapeake Bay have joined Mighty Earth’s #CleanItUpTyson campaign, which has been calling on the company to address water contamination driven by its supply chain. Over 300 national and local environmental, business, farmer, and labor groups have joined the campaign, and a shareholder proposal urging Tyson to address the risks of water contamination from its supply chain received support from 63% of non-Tyson family shareholders in February. Last September, communities members in Tonganoxie, Kansas rejected a $320 million proposed Tyson plant, citing concerns about water contamination, as well as other local impacts.

Mighty Earth’s #CleanItUpTyson campaign emphasizes sustainable feed sourcing practices, which have been largely ignored by the industry, as significant opportunities to reduce meat’s environmental and public health impacts. Key areas for improving feed sourcing include improper fertilization, poor soil management practices, non-diverse crop rotations, and destruction of natural ecosystem buffers, such as wetlands and grasslands.

While ambitious, Tyson’s announcement does not yet contain details about how this commitment will be implemented or verified. Other major environmental impacts from Tyson’s supply chain that the company has yet to address include greenhouse gas emissions and runoff from improperly disposed manure, destruction of native ecosystems to produce feed, methane from cattle, and toxic discharges from local facilities. This commitment puts Tyson ahead of competitors like Cargill, JBS, Perdue, and other major meat processors who have so far largely neglected to address the environmental consequences of their supply chains.

Tyson’s latest commitment is part of the company’s new strategy to become a consumer-facing brand focused on sustainability, led by new CEO Tom Hayes and Chief Sustainability Officer Justin Whitmore. Tyson recently announced a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030, and is in the process of releasing the specifics on how this goal will be implemented.

More information on the #CleanItUpTyson campaign can be found at https://www.mightyearth.org/u-s-agriculture/.

Meat Feeling the Pressure to Reduce Impacts

In the past month, two of the world’s largest meat sellers announced commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their supply chains. This is significant because the meat industry emits more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector globally,[i] due largely to methane from livestock, mismanaged manure, and deforestation and over-fertilization of fields that produce feed.[ii] Many of the practices driving the sector’s climate impacts are also causing widespread water contamination, particularly from excess manure and fertilizer pollution washing off fields that grow feed.

In response to growing public concern about these environmental consequences, global meat giant Tyson Foods recently announced it would reduce emissions from its North America operations (Scope 1 and Scope 2) 30% by 2030, and emissions intensity 30% for its Scope 3 supply chain impacts.[iii] Shortly thereafter, Tyson’s major customer, McDonald’s, announced its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas impacts from restaurants and offices 36% by 2030 from a 2015 baseline, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity from its supply chain 31% during the same timeframe.

These commitments are of course intertwined, with McDonald’s success depending in large part on the efforts of its meat suppliers like Tyson. At the moment, both commitments are missing key details needed to understand how ambitious the companies intend to be. For example, Tyson does not include a baseline year from when it intends to cut emissions, and is vague on scope: will the commitment be global, across all its meat supply chains, and will it include the vast quantities of feed grown to raise all its meat?

These questions are particularly pressing, as shown by a new Mighty Earth investigation into the destruction of forests and other native ecosystems in Latin America to grow soy for global meat animals. This latest report found that the meat industry relies on massive quantities of soy for animal feed to raise livestock: about three quarters of the world’s soy is used for animal feed. In addition, more than one million square kilometers of land are dedicated to growing soy, an area almost three times the size of Germany. This builds on our findings of widespread water contamination and native prairie clearance here in the United States from the meat and feed industry. This only deepens the urgency of Tyson addressing the full scope of its environmental impacts, both in the context of its new greenhouse gas commitments and in the broader context of reducing the environmental harm of its practices in the US and worldwide.

Will Tyson rise to the challenge of meeting global protein demands without destroying the planet? We sure hope so! Join our #CleanItUpTyson campaign to get involved.



[i] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/07/big-meat-big-dairy-carbon-emmissions-exxon-mobil

[ii] http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/resources/en/publications/tackling_climate_change/index.htm

[iii] https://www.greenbiz.com/article/tyson-sustainability-agenda

Controversy Erupts at Tyson Shareholder Meeting

Feb 8, 2018 Springdale, AR — Frustrated shareholders submitted a resolution at Tyson Foods’ annual meeting today pushing Tyson to address the egregious pollution driven by the company’s operations and supply chain. A coalition of local and national organizations gathered outside the meeting to voice concerns about the massive amounts of manure, nitrogen, and phosphorus gushing into waterways across the country including the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and Gulf of Mexico.

“Tyson’s leadership has stated an ambition to be the most sustainable protein company in the world, bar none,” noted Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “That’s an exciting vision, but now Tyson needs to actually stop polluting if they want the public to embrace their new mission.”

Tyson Foods has recently made significant investments in “clean meat” company Memphis Meats and plant-based protein company “Beyond Meat,” and CEO Tom Hayes has put sustainability at the center of his mission for the company, even leading with the issue during a recent interview on CNBC’s Mad Money. But the company has yet to show results in delivering the necessary change in its core business, threatening its marketing.

Mighty Earth chronicled how Tyson Foods was contributing to contamination of drinking water and the creation of last summer’s record-sized Gulf of Mexico dead zone in a groundbreaking analysis of agricultural pollution.

"Conventional agriculture—relying on concentrated animal production and non-diverse row crops—is the overwhelming source of Iowa’s polluted surface waters,” noted Bill Stowe, CEO of Des Moines Water Works, which made national headlines for suing upstream counties where Tyson has major facilities for contaminating downstream water supplies in Iowa. “As food consumers, we can leverage our power to encourage mega corporations, like Tyson, to improve supply chain behavior that protect rather than ravage our environment and our communities."

Mighty Earth’s #CleanItUpTyson campaign urges the industry’s largest and most polluting company to adopt more sustainable agricultural practices, and has spread to nine regions impacted by Tyson’s pollution across the country. Over 85,000 petition signatures from these regions will be delivered outside the company’s annual meeting, and representatives from affected communities will be speaking to media.

“Communities across the country are rightly concerned about the implications of allowing one of America’s largest polluters to move in and set up shop,” commented Jay Ford, Executive Director of Virginia Eastern Shorekeepers, an environmental group pushing back against Tyson’s proposed expansion in the Chesapeake Bay due to water contamination concerns. “The Delmarva Peninsula is echoing the same concerns that citizens of Tonganoxie, Kansas cited when they blocked Tyson’s expansion plans- clean up or get out.”

The shareholder resolution, urging stronger action to reduce water contamination, was filed by a coalition of faith-based investors, who are concerned about the company’s ongoing track record of water contamination and the long-term impact on shareholder value as a result. This is the fourth year the resolution will be filed, earning growing support from shareholders each year, yet Tyson’s leadership has so far refused to respond.

“Tyson shareholders continue to file this resolution, which has garnered mounting support and a majority vote of Class A shareholders, because of the material risk to Tyson’s business, brand, and growth potential if it fails to set in place policies needed to govern sustainable and responsible operations,” stated Mary Beth Gallagher, Executive Director for the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, which filed the shareholder proposal.

“Companies are increasingly realizing that being a responsible corporate citizen that protects the health and well-being of communities and consumers is critical for long-term success,” noted Walter Hinojosa of the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council. “Having the reputation as one of America’s largest polluters is not something anyone wants or is proud of, and we hope that Tyson will step up as a leader in delivering solutions that keep our waters clean and communities healthy.”

About Mighty Earth: 

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights. Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at https://www.mightyearth.org/.

Experts Find Ocean Dead Zones Have Expanded 1000% Worldwide Since 1950

According to a ground-breaking study published in the journal Science today, reducing run-off pollution from industrial agriculture is urgently necessary to stop the rapid growth in oceanic Dead Zones that have expanded 10-fold around the world since 1950. The study points to climate change and expanding meat production as primary drivers of these low-oxygen areas, and echoes findings from Mighty Earth’s recent investigation into the specific companies most responsible for the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

“These findings are no surprise, and further confirm that the unchecked pollution from industrial agriculture has reached crisis levels and requires immediate action,” noted Campaign Director for Mighty Earth Lucia von Reusner. “Companies like Tyson Foods are driving the demand for vast quantities of unsustainably-produced corn and soy that are leaking the bulk of the nutrient pollution into our waterways, in addition to the manure that is often dumped on fields where it then washes off into surrounding waterways. These dead zones will continue to expand unless the major meat companies that dominate our global agricultural system start taking responsibility for cleaning up their supply chains to keep pollution out of our waters.”

The study, Declining oxygen in the global ocean and coastal waters, was conducted by the Global Ocean Oxygen Network, which represents 21 institutions in 11 countries. It is the first study to evaluate the causes, consequences, and solutions to ocean dead zones worldwide, and highlights the urgent threat to global fisheries as these low oxygen areas expand and cause marine life to suffocate or flee for deeper waters.

Based on the findings of its investigation earlier this year, Mighty Earth has launched a campaign calling on major meat companies like Tyson Foods to take responsibility for reducing pollution from their supply chains. Mighty Earth found that industrial meat production’s environmental impact can be greatly improved by requiring feed suppliers to reduce excess fertilizer use, adopt practices that prevent soil erosion such as cover-cropping, and protecting native landscapes from being plowed over for expanded production.

The #CleanItUpTyson campaign has spread to major cities across the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico, with over 240 local business, farmer, community, and environmental groups signing an open letter to Tyson’s CEO urging the company to adopt practices for reducing water pollution. While some companies like Smithfield have begun improving feed sourcing practices, Tyson has so far ignored these impacts despite the growing pressure from customers and shareholders.


Rally at Tyson Headquarters- Activists Call on Tyson Foods to Live Up to Sustainability Promises

Springdale, AR -- Today, more than 50 people gathered outside of Tyson Food’s Global Headquarters to deliver over 63,000 petitions to the company’s CEO, Tom Hayes calling for adoption of more sustainable practices. The rally in Springdale was one of seven that was held today throughout the Heartland as part of a national campaign that is working to push the country’s largest meat producer to address harmful practices in its supply chain that lead to widespread water pollution across the country.Rally attendees came from across the country to demonstrate the broad and growing support for this cause.

“Communities across America are tired of bearing the burden of Tyson’s pollution. The rapid mobilization of communities opposing a new Tyson plant in Kansas is just one example, and now these petitions show we are not alone in our frustration at the industry’s polluting impacts," said Cecilia Pruitt from Tonganoxie, KS, the community that stopped the construction of a new Tyson facility due in part to concerns about the polluting impacts it would have on their environment.

Agricultural runoff is the single biggest contributor to water pollution in the country, the bulk of which comes from the unsustainable practices used to produce the vast quantities of feed grown to raise meat. This year, runoff pollution from feed crops and meat facilities was the primary cause of the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, which was about the size of New Jersey. This pollution not just an ecological problem: the toxins from agricultural runoff affects the drinking water supply of over 17 million Americans, exposing them to toxins linked to a variety of health impacts, including cancers and birth defects.

“The tens of thousands of petitions that we delivered today make it clear that people across the country want to see Tyson change, even outside of communities that are directly harmed by agricultural runoff,” said Aaron Viles, Manager of Organizing at Care2, an online petition organization that has partnered with Mighty Earth on this campaign. “Having clean water is an issue that everyone can get behind.”

Water pollution issues from agricultural runoff are worsening as the global demand for meat -- and the grains required to feed it -- expand. Jody Osmund, farmer and local food activist, emphasized that mitigating the pollution impacts of their supply chains is something that agribusiness corporations need to address. “The decisions about how things are done in the meat industry are concentrated in the hands of just a few companies, like Tyson. These companies determine how millions of animals are raised, what they eat, and how everything is produced. And they can decide to implement standards that make their meat better for the planet, better for our farms, and better for rural communities -- and their suppliers will listen.”

The vast quantity of feed grown to raise livestock and poultry is the largest source of meat’s environmental impact- and is largely ignored by the industry. The “Clean It Up, Tyson” campaign calls for Tyson’s CEO to commit to sourcing animal feed from suppliers that practice sustainable and regenerative agricultural methods, such as growing cover cropping, using less fertilizer, diversifying crops, limiting tillage, and stopping the clearing of native ecosystems such as the iconic American prairie. There is a growing call for companies like Tyson to make this change. In addition to having the direct support of over 63,000 people, this campaign is supported by over 260 businesses and organizations that represent more than 720,600 people.

“Citizens and consumers across the country are galvanized at Tyson’s new commitment to lead on sustainability, and clearly want to see water pollution prioritized as part of that,” noted Lucia von Reusner, National Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “A commitment to implementing practices that prevent water pollution and regenerate our soils would show America that Tyson is sincere in its public pledges to wanting to ‘show how much good food can do’ and be ‘the most sustainable protein supplier, bar none'.”


















Mighty Earth: Victory on Chocolate; Intensifying Focus on Meat Industry

Dear friends,

I wanted to share some important updates with you regarding Mighty Earth’s work around the world to make agriculture environmentally and socially responsible. Also, stay tuned for a big announcement on the expansion of our work for clean energy.

A Breakthrough on Chocolate
First, we’re very pleased to announce that the world's leading chocolate companies, including Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Nestle, Cargill, Olam, and Barry Callebaut and several others have committed to a groundbreaking plan to end deforestation in the chocolate industry, and invest in restoration of the forests of Ivory Coast and Ghana. The announcement follows Mighty Earth’s “Chocolate’s Dark Secret” report, which documented how up to 40 percent of Ivory Coast’s chocolate came from the destruction of national parks and protected areas, decimating populations of wildlife like chimpanzees and forest elephants.

In this effort, we worked with IDH - the sustainable trade initiative, the Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit and the World Cocoa Foundation as well as the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana to hammer out these commitments. This initiative has been a model of civil society working together with governments, donors and companies to drive very rapid progress for a whole industry, and we’re proud to have played a role. We are also grateful to the Arcus Foundation for making this campaign possible.

Read more about this breakthrough, and the steps the chocolate industry needs to take to implement it here.

World’s Largest Meat Sellers Call for Action on Deforestation

On October 23, I had the opportunity to join Prince Charles and many government and business leaders for a meeting to discuss private sector action to stop deforestation.   This meeting also afforded us the opportunity to discuss our efforts to protect Gabon’s forests, wildlife and communities with Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba.

At the meeting, 23 of the world’s largest meat sellers and soy end users, such as McDonald’s, Wal-mart, and Tesco, publicly called for soy and meat companies to stop driving massive destruction of South America's native ecosystems. The companies announced their support for the Cerrado Manifesto, a call by Brazilian and international NGOs, including Mighty Earth, to end destruction of the Brazilian Cerrado’s highly biodiverse native ecosystems and instead focus development on the regions tens of millions of acres of previously deforested, degraded land. The companies' action came after months of pressure from Mighty Earth and our allies on these companies to act, as well as our widely covered "Mystery Meat" exposé.

Deforestation for soy in Bolivia, documented by Mighty Earth's investigation. Photo: Jim Wickens, Ecostorm/Mighty Earth.

Unfortunately, companies directly responsible for driving the destruction of these ecosystems - such as Cargill, Bunge, and ADM – have colluded to deny their customers the responsibly produced meat consumers demand.  What’s especially shameful about these companies’ failure to act is that they are just being asked to repeat their own decade-long success through the Brazilian Soy Moratorium, where they have managed to expand soy production by six million acres without deforestation.

We hope that consumer companies like McDonald’s, Walmart and Ahold Delhaize  will back their words with action and shift their meat and soy purchases to companies that provide feed that is free of connection to the kind of destruction we’ve exposed in Brazil’s Cerrado and the Bolivian Amazon basin.

Read more here.

Transforming the Meat Industry in the Heartland

It’s possible to provide all the protein that America and the world need with a fraction of impact on land, water and climate that the meat industry currently uses. But the American meat industry has, through decades of concentration, purchased feed and managed livestock with little attention to these impacts.

This summer, Mighty Earth launched a major effort to make US agriculture far more sustainable. In June, we published groundbreaking research that mapped for the first time the relationship between major meat and feed companies’ facilities and agricultural water pollution pouring into the Mississippi and other American waterways, and that was largely responsible for this summer’s largest-ever dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mighty Earth Volunteers in Dallas, Texas

There is no company more responsible for this environmental crisis than Tyson Foods, America’s largest meat company. Thanks to generous support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, we’ve been able to work with Green Corps and organizations like the Gulf Restoration Network and Care2 to extend a grassroots push to change Tyson across the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico. More than 230 local organizations and thousands of volunteers have taken action to urge Tyson to change.

The campaign seems to be getting some traction. Tyson CEO Tom Hayes recently appeared on CNBC’s Mad Money show with Jim Cramer to discuss growth prospects, and the conversation centered on Tyson’s ability to grow while providing sustainably sourced meat. While Tyson has yet to take any meaningful steps to back their in-principle commitment to sustainability,  it shows that grassroots demand in the heartlands is being heard. We’re going to keep it up.

Calling for Responsible Investment

Across our work focused on changing the private sector, we’ve found powerful allies in institutional investors like Green Century Capital Management, New York State Pension Fund, and the Norwegian Pension Fund, which use their financial might to persuade companies in which they invest to improve their environmental performance.  California’s pension fund, CalPers, has shown leadership by shifted investments away from coal, but has unfortunately continued to invest in companies like Bunge and Posco that engage in deforestation around the world. Mighty Earth’s Chairman, former Congressman Henry Waxman, this week took to the pages of the Sacramento Bee to call for CalPers to extend its leadership to forests.

We're doing a lot, but a lot must be done. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this progress - and the progress yet to come - possible. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Glenn Hurowitz

P.S. You can provide urgently needed for support Mighty Earth’s campaigns with a tax-deductible contribution through our parent organization, the Center for International Policy. Just click here, and choose Mighty Earth from the drop-down menu. Thank you!

Local Groups Sign Open Letter Calling on Tyson CEO to Fulfill Sustainability Promises

October, 2017- Over 230 local business, farmer, environmental, and community groups from across the country have joined the nation-wide campaign to hold America’s largest meat company accountable for the water pollution affecting their communities. The groups, whose members represent communities from the Heartland to the Gulf, have released an open letter calling on the CEO of Tyson Foods to fulfil sustainability promises by making a clear commitment to reduce water pollution caused by the company’s supply chain.

“Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “Our nation’s largest meat companies shape our food system on a massive scale, and can implement the solutions needed to keep our waters clean.”

The coalition launch comes in response to a report released earlier this summer from Mighty Earth linking America’s biggest meat companies to the largest Dead Zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to a variety of other environmental and public health issues in the U.S. A recent analysis of America’s tap water quality found that over 17 million Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of carcinogens from agricultural pollution in their drinking water.

The meat industry is the main source of water pollution in the United States. The bulk of this pollution comes from growing the vast quantities of animal feed used to raise meat, and the pollution washing off poorly managed fields is “one of America’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems,” according to a report from the EPA.

Mighty Earth’s report identified Tyson Foods as the company most responsible for driving the practices causing this pollution, given its dominant position as America’s largest meat company and expansive footprint in all regions of the country most affected by agricultural run-off pollution. Tyson’s new CEO Tom Hayes has pledged to ‘show how much good food can do’ and ‘place sustainability at the center of the company’s future plans’. The letter is calling on Tom Hayes to fulfil those promises with a clear commitment to reducing water pollution.

The full letter and list of signatories is included below. Local news outlets covered the release of the letter- for example, coverage in ABC Local news in Iowa includes CEO of Des Moines Waterworks, which has attracted national attention for the high levels of agricultural pollution it has been forced to treat.


Tom Hayes, Chief Executive Officer
Tyson Foods, Inc.
2200 W. Don Tyson Parkway
Springdale, AR 72762

Dear Mr. Hayes,

As representatives of organizations whose members are affected by the pollution driven by Tyson’s meat production here in the United States, we are writing to encourage your company to adopt more sustainable practices throughout its supply chain that reduce water pollution and protect our natural landscapes. In its position as the nation’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods has a unique opportunity to reduce the environmental consequences of meat and lead the industry towards better farming practices.

There is a need for rapid action: the meat industry, including its feed supply, is the main source of water pollution in the United States. Pollution from raising meat is contaminating drinking water across the Midwest, and flowing downstream along the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico where it causes a massive dead zone every summer- an area so polluted that marine life cannot survive. The bulk of this pollution comes from the vast quantities of animal feed produced to raise meat, and are a result of practices driving high soil erosion rates, loss of natural landscape buffers, and excess fertilizer application.

This year, the runoff pollution reached such levels that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest on record, due in large measure to Tyson and other companies’ continued tolerance of substandard practices in their supply chains. Fortunately, solutions are available to reduce meat’s environmental impact through better feed sourcing practices, which need to be rapidly implemented to prevent this disaster from recurring.

We hope you will immediately announce a sustainable agriculture policy that ensures all of your suppliers adhere to the following best practices for responsible feed production and sourcing:

  •    Cover cropping and conservation tillage practices to prevent soil erosion,
  •    Protecting and restoring natural landscape buffers to absorb runoff,
  •    Optimizing fertilizer application to prevent excess runoff,
  •    Incorporation of rotationally-raised small grains into the feed rotations
  •    A moratorium on further clearance of native ecosystems such as the iconic American prairie

You have pledged to “place sustainability at the center of the company’s future plans” and show “how much good food can do.” We applaud these statements, and believe a commitment to ensuring feed is sustainably sourced is crucial for demonstrating the company’s ambition.

As the nation’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods has a key role to play in keeping our waters clean and our soils healthy. Please advise us by November 17, 2017 on how Tyson Foods will address the urgent environmental and public health impacts from its supply chain, and lead the industry towards a more sustainable path forward.


Dallas, TX
Be Raw
Dallas Sierra Club
Texas Campaign for the Environment
Bois d'Arc Meat Company
Chelles Macarons
The Caribbean Cabana
Taboo Tattoo
Armoury D.E.
First Unitarian Church Climate Action Team
R. C. Rogers
Dragon's Snacks
Sureshort Visuals
Push Yourself Through
Heat Roc Nation
Made With Love Market
White Rock Granola
MaDear's Jellies
Yiayia's Greek Bakery
Williams Farm
Texas Hill Country Olive Country
Rockin Jr Ranch
Good Water
Simple Splendor Sauces
Samco World Imports
Tilly's Old Fashion
Meat Maniac
Perky Pickles
Energy Gardens Terrariums LLC
Reclaimed Wood Designs
The Plain Ole Salsa Company
Brags Farms
Jordan Cordori Industries
Paisley Farms
Companion Roasters
Kaitlyn's Styles
SMU Environmental Society
Garden Cafe
Noble Rey Brewing Company
UTD Sustainability Club
GROW North Texas
Heddin Family Farms
The Green Room
Hide Bar
Piney Woods Farm Alliance
Indigenous Roots
Timothy's Tasty Organic Lemonade
Native Trashion
Elliott Grows LLC
Hartrickson Family Farm
Arlington Conservation Council
Society of Native Nations
Systems Change not Climate Change
Helping Hands Medical Clinic

Chicago, IL
Phayes Men
Cloud Vapor Lounge
Chicago Honey Co-op
Wolf Bait and B-Girls
Crate Free Illinois
Patch Work Farmes
Mint Creek Farm
Closed Loop Farms
Prairie Rivers Network
Midwest Pesticide Action Network
Environment America
Sandbox Organics Farm
Chillinois Young Farmers
Modern Grill
Ricci Kapricci Salon
North Halsted Dental Spa
Horizon Cafe
Anton's Barber Shop
Nearly New Bikes
Klein's Bakery
Bourgieous Pig Cafe
Sir and Madame
Sip and Savor
The Silver Room
Jefferey Dollar
Jojayden Handmade
Rajun Cajun
The Silver Umbrella
350 Chicago
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Community Dining
Sagano Sushi
Spilt Milk Pastry
George's Restaurant
L!VE Cafe
Citrine Cafe
Geppetto's Oak Park
2 Amigos
Furious Spoon
Damn Fine Coffee Bar
El Condor
Hairitics Dye for Your Beliefs
Sugar Beet Co-op
The Urban Canopy
The Wright Way Farm, LLC
Nichols Farm and Orchard
Family Farmed

New Orleans, LA
The Bike Shop
Midway Pizza
Good Bird
Freret Beer Room
Piccola Gelateria
St. Lawrence
Earth Odyssey
J and M Jewelry
Tulane Green Club
The Daily Beet
LA Shrimper's Association
Drip Affogato Bar
Freda New Orleans
Southern United Neighborhoods
Allie's Natural Hair Community
Harley London
New Orleans Food & Farm Network
Kaya Swamp Tours
GrowOn Urban Farm
9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development
A Community Voice
350.org - NOLA chapter
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse
ACORN International
Gulf Restoration Network

Fayetteville, AR
Omni Center
NWA Labor Council
Arkansas Sierra Club
White River Waterkeepers
Buffalo River Watershed Alliance
Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders
Ozark River Stewards
Puritan Coffee & Beer
Dirty Apron Bake House
French Metro Antiques
Morning Star Zen Center
Nomads Fayetteville
Heart and Wrench
Nu Fangled Images
Sun Sugar Farms
Barkansas Life
Flora & Fauna
Hustlewood LLC
Ozark Apothecary
Peacock Pigments
Mountain Greenery
Huddle on Forest

Omaha, NE
GC Resolve
Nebraska Communities United
Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha Together One Community – Environmental Sustainability Action Team
Indivisible Omaha
Omaha Permaculture
Douglas County Farmers Union
Pharmacy Express, Omaha
The Gourmet Granola
Nolis Pizzeria
Barley Street Tavern
Star Deli
Jake’s Cigars
Full House Bar
Clifford Cycles
Krug Park
Burrito Envy
Premier Therapy
Benson Brewery
The Sydney
Omaha Bicycle Co.
Drastic Plastic Clothing
13th Street Coffee
Ted & Wally’s Ice Cream
Krazy Woman Orchard
Lauren Beths Popcorn
Copin Designs

Kansas City, MO
Exploring Roots
Red Ridge Farm
Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm
Mama Linda'a LLC
Syntax Land Design, LLC
Inkwell Cafe
ReRuns Vintage
Mid Coast Modern
Frame Works
Pink Pony Farms
MM Farms
Heartland Conservation Alliance
Green Room Burgers and Beer
Midwest Cyclery
Novus Escape Room
Automan Autoplaza
Endicott Salon
Westport Hookah
Design in the City
5B&Co Candlemakers

Des Moines, IA
Optimal Lifeservices (Plain Talk Books)
Fontenelle Supply Co.
Artisan's Jewelry Designs
Blue Planet Groupe
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Des Moines
HOQ Restaurant
Bruce Owen Jewelry
American Plumbing Supply
Porch Light
Locally Grown Clothing Co
Green Goods
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Grade A Gardens
Lost Lake Farm
Nomad Farm & Gardens
Boone County Organics
Peep Toe
Teresa Kitchen Collage
The Continental Inc
Urban Ambassadors

#CleanItUpTyson campaign kicks off across the country

Last week, communities from Des Moines to New Orleans met in town halls across the country to build the call for Tyson’s CEO to #CleanItUpTyson. Community members gathered to share ideas and brainstorm strategies for urging America’s largest meat company to clean up pollution from its supply chain that’s contaminating local drinking water and causing a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

The local campaigns are part of Mighty Earth’s national effort to hold the meat industry accountable for reducing its vast environmental impact, which is driving widespread water pollution, clearance of natural landscapes, high rates of soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions. Local communities from the Heartland to the Gulf are among those most affected by the meat industry’s impacts, and pay billions each year in clean up costs.

Participants got creative with ideas for media outreach, petitioning, coalition building, and grassroots organizing in their communities., and drove from up to three hours away to attend.

In Chicago, Illinois:


In Dallas, Texas:


Des Moines, Iowa:


Fayetteville, Arkansas


Kansas City, Missouri


New Orleans, Louisiana


Omaha, Nebraska

Mighty Earth partners with Green Corps to Clean Up America’s Meat

Tyson Foods needs to step up and make a clear commitment to cleaning up pollution from its meat that is contaminating waters across the country. That’s the core message that Green Corps organizers will be bringing to communities most affected by this pollution as part of Mighty Earth’s campaign for cleaner meat.


Mighty Earth has partnered with Green Crops to place seven grassroots organizers in communities across the Midwest and Gulf, including Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; Fayetteville, Arkansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Dallas, Texas. Green Corps is the nation’s leading training program for environmental organizing, and partners with environmental campaigns across the country as part of a year-long training program.


“Green Corps gets the job done,” said Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz, himself a graduate of Green Corps’ organizing fellowship. “With the nation’s most talented young environmental organizers on board, we’re building a powerful movement that will end the meat industry’s out-of-control pollution.”


The meat industry is the main source of water pollution in the United States. Pollution from raising meat is contaminating drinking water across the Midwest, and flows downstream along the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico where it causes a massive dead zone every summer- an area so polluted that marine life cannot survive. This year’s dead zone was the largest on record. The pollution comes primarily from producing the vast quantities of corn and soy required to raise meat, although manure is also a source.


An investigation by Mighty Earth into the specific companies responsible for this pollution found Tyson Foods to be at the forefront. Tyson Foods is America’s largest meat company, producing one out of every five pounds of meat in the country, and its vast footprint can be found driving the agricultural practices in all the regions experiencing the worst pollution from meat.


However, Tyson’s new CEO recently stated he wants to ‘place sustainability at the center of the company’s strategy’. Mighty Earth has partnered with Green Corps to make sure Tyson lives up to its word and adopts a clear commitment to cleaning up pollution from its vast meat supply chain. Green Corps organizers are taking the findings of our investigation to communities across the country most impacted by the meat industry’s pollution in order to build the call for Tyson to Clean It Up.


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Interested in getting more involved? Click here to sign up to volunteer for the cause in your community.

Mystery Meat II

New Investigation Identifies Companies Responsible for Massive Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

Tyson Foods, America’s Largest Meat Company, Leads Those Found to be driving massive Manure and Fertilizer Pollution

Read the Report

Mapping data links top meat companies to regions experiencing worst pollution from meat

Washington, D.C. — A new report, released by Mighty Earth, identifies the companies responsible for the widespread manure and fertilizer pollution contaminating water from the Heartland to the Gulf. Much of this pollution comes from the vast quantities of corn and soy used to raise meat animals, and has caused one of the largest Dead Zones on record in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

To identify the companies responsible, the investigation maps the supply chains of the top meat and feed companies, and overlays it with data showing elevated nitrate concentrations in waterways that are experiencing high levels of fertilizer pollution. The report also mapped where these supply chains are driving destruction of natural grasslands, including native prairies, putting new regions at risk for fertilizer pollution.

America’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods, stood out for its expansive footprint in all the regions suffering the worst pollution impacts from industrial meat and feed production. Tyson produces one out of every five pounds of meat produced in the United States, and owns brands like Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, and Sara Lee, in addition to selling to fast food retailers like McDonalds. The company is consistently ranked among the top polluters in America, although Tyson’s new CEO has declared that a focus on sustainability will be at the center of the company’s future plans. The report found:

    • Tyson is the only meat company with major processing facilities in each of the states listed by the USGS as contributing the highest levels of pollution to the Gulf;
    • Tyson and Smithfield have the heaviest concentration of meat facilities in those regions of the country with the highest levels of nitrate contamination;
Map of nitrate levels by watersheds, 2016 overlaid with Tyson and top feed supplier facilities (View Larger Map)
    • Tyson’s top feed suppliers are behind the bulk of grassland prairie clearance, which dramatically magnifies the impacts of fertilizer pollution, with Cargill and ADM clearly dominating the market for corn and soy with their network of grain elevators and feed silos in all the states with the highest losses.
Map of grassland conversion by county, 2016 overlaid with Tyson and top feed supplier facilities (View Larger Map)


“Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water”, says Mighty Earth campaign director Lucia von Reusner. “Big meat companies like Tyson have left a trail of pollution across the country, and have a responsibility to their customers and the public to clean it up.”

“As the public has gained awareness of the major impacts of industrial meat production, many consumers have been trying to find more sustainable options,” said von Reusner. “This report shows that our nation’s largest meat companies shape our food system on a massive scale, and can implement the solutions needed to make meat less polluting.”

A recent analysis from the Environmental Working Group of 2015 public water utility data found that 7 million Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of nitrate contamination in their drinking water. The Tap Water Database “provides information on the most widespread and potentially harmful contaminants and their sources – including agriculture, a leading source of pollution in the U.S. that is largely exempt from federal laws designed to protect drinking water,” according to the Environmental Working Group.

Researchers recently announced that so much pollution has run into the Gulf of Mexico this year that is has created one of the largest dead zones on record. Fertilizer pollution flowing down the Mississippi River from the American heartland is the cause of this dead zone, by causing toxic algae blooms where marine life cannot survive. This fertilizer pollution comes mostly from industrial corn and soy fields. Last year the USGS reported that around 1.15 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. As comparison, the BP oil spill was 670,800 metric tons, and is not an annually occurring event.

*The report was amended to clarify the proportion of U.S. soy that goes toward animal feed. The rest of the report remains unchanged.

Take action! Sign the petition below calling on Tyson’s CEO to clean up this pollution from meat.

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About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at https://www.mightyearth.org/.