Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "agriculture" ...

  • WUFT: Cost of Sunshine

    Public record requests of various county and local governments were made in an effort to determine the number of public record requests received by each governmental unit, the cost to provide access to the requested records, the fees recovered from requestors, and copies of agency public record access policies. Those governmental units not audited received a survey designed to obtain the same information sought in the public record requests. Public record requests included all county constitutional officers in nine Florida counties as well as the city clerk in the county seat. County constitutional officers include the state attorney; sheriff; clerk of court; tax collector; property appraiser; supervisor of elections; public defender; and school superintendent. Counties were chosen based on geographic and population diversity. Six state agencies were also included: Executive Office of Governor, Attorney General,Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Financial Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
  • The Weather Channel Digital and Telemundo with Efran Films: Hidden Cost

    In “Hidden Cost,” The Weather Channel and Telemundo with Efran Films conduct an immersive investigation of the lives of America’s migrant farmworkers, exploring in particular the impact of climate change on the children who toil in our country’s fields.
  • Consumer Fraud Involving Various Agricultural Products and Crops

    This series focuses on consumer fraud involving various agricultural products and crops. As American consumers seek more quality and health claims about products they buy, they're also demanding greater transparency from the companies that make these goods. But there's still plenty of secrecy in the supply chains from the farms that produce raw materials to the finished products that people purchase at stores.
  • Draining Oregon

    Oregon is helping farmers drain the state's underground reservoirs to grow cash crops in the desert, throwing sensitive ecosystems out of balance and fueling an agricultural boom that cannot be sustained, The Oregonian/OregonLive has found.
  • The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater

    The historic agreement reached in Paris in December that will curb carbon emissions is heartening, but oil isn’t the only resource being pumped out of the ground at an alarming rate—with catastrophic consequences for the planet. In an eye-opening series for USA Today, The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, CA, and other Gannett newspapers, Pulitzer Center grantees Ian James and Steve Elfers investigate the consequences of groundwater depletion, an overlooked global crisis. “Groundwater is disappearing beneath cornfields in Kansas, rice paddies in India, asparagus farms in Peru and orange groves in Morocco,” writes Ian. “As these critical water reserves are pumped beyond their limits, the threats are mounting for people who depend on aquifers to supply agriculture, sustain economies and provide drinking water. In some areas, fields have already turned to dust and farmers are struggling.” Climate change will only exacerbate the crisis, yet few seem to be taking this existential threat seriously. “Even as satellite measurements have revealed the problem’s severity on a global scale, many regions have failed to adequately address the problem,” says Ian. “Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is being gradually used up.”
  • Devastating Virus

    Most people think food comes from the grocery store. So when a devastating virus hit the hog industry in Spring 2013, few people probably noticed except when it came to paying a lot more for bacon that summer. At Harvest Public Media, a public radio collaboration based in the Midwest, we know that food production is an expensive, complicated process. We investigated Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, a fast-spreading virus never before seen in the U.S., finding an intriguing international story and a significant failure by the U.S. agency that oversees agriculture.
  • A Game of Chicken

    Over the course of a decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had not one, not two, not three, but four opportunities to warn the public about salmonella outbreaks involving Foster Farms chicken. Each time, they hemmed and hawed, worrying more about the threat of legal action from a corporate giant than about protecting consumers. Health reporter Lynne Terry was the first journalist in America to identify and write about this alarming trend. With reporters from Frontline, The Center for Investigative Reporting and the New York Times circling around the story, she beat them all with a stunning and illuminating examination of the failures of the USDA. In her year-long investigation, Terry set out to determine if the USDA’s notoriously slow handling of a major salmonella outbreak in 2013-2014 was an isolated case. It wasn’t. She reviewed thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents dating back to 2003. What she found was disturbing: More than 1,000 people had rushed to their doctors with bouts of food poisoning. They had no idea what made them sick. But federal regulators did. Those same federal officials took virtually no steps to protect consumers from bad chicken. Health officials in Oregon and Washington had pushed vigorously for federal action, having identified clear and convincing evidence of problems. But the USDA wouldn’t budge. Terry’s meticulous reporting identified these themes: •USDA officials are afraid of lawsuits. The agency is so worried about being sued by companies that they’ve set an almost impossible bar for evidence, even rejecting samples of tainted chicken that state health agencies believed would help clinch their case. •Government inspectors are pressured to go easy on food processors. In one notable case, the USDA transferred an inspector after Foster Farms complained he wrote too many citations. •The USDA succumbed to further pressure from Foster Farms. After strong pushback from the company’s lawyers, the agency backed away from citing an unequivocal connection linking the company to a 2004 outbreak – even though the evidence pointed only to Foster Farms.
  • The Dark Side of the Strawberry

    California is the only state that keeps such detailed data on where pesticides are applied. It also is the place that grows 9 out of every 10 strawberries Americans eat. Complicating things further, strawberries are grown near where people work and live and where children go to school. Fumigants, such as chloropicrin, methyl bromide and 1,3-Dichloropropene, are some of the most heavily used pesticides in the state. They are gases, prone to drifting away from the field. An analysis of more than 20 million records of pesticide applications showed a surprising trend. The heaviest pesticide use was not in the Central Valley of California (the heart of the state’s agriculture), but in Monterey and Ventura counties — the strawberry capitals. This informed the rest of our reporting and led us to focus on the strawberry industry.
  • The Dark Side of the Strawberry

    California strawberry growers are hooked on a dangerous class of pesticides and, along with chemical companies, have exploited loopholes in local regulations and global treaties to keep using these chemicals, increasing cancer risk in more than 100 California communities and further depleting the ozone layer in the process. The Center for Investigative Reporting, also published online by The Guardian U.S.
  • Pest Control: Syngenta's Secret Campaign to Silence Atrazine's Critics

    These stories detailed a secret campaign by Syngenta, the Swiss agricultural chemical giant, to spy on and discredit critics of atrazine, its highly profitable weed killer, used on three-quarters of all the corn grown in the United States. The main story was based on roughly 1,000 pages of documents under court seal that 100Reporters obtained under the Freedom of Information laws and a review of financial and other statements of nonprofits that defended and supported use of the herbicide. The company at the time faced a class action lawsuit over contamination of drinking water in six states, and maintained that the cost of clean-up could end atrazine sales in the United States.