Madison McVan

Madison McVan

Madison McVan is a Report for America corps member who covers economic mobility for Minnesota Reformer. She previously covered agriculture for Investigate Midwest after graduating from the University of Missouri in 2020 with degrees in Journalism and Latin American studies.

Minnesota among states with highest average household income, highest racial inequality

By: - July 20, 2023

Good news: Minnesota’s average income is in the top ten of U.S. states. Bad news: The average yearly income — $72,062 in 2022, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data — obscures big gaps between the rich and everyone else. Half of Minnesotans make $62,500 or less, for instance. And racial gaps are even starker, […]

Owatonna mayor pushes back on Pride; LGBTQ organizer calls for resignation

By: - July 14, 2023

LGBTQ organizers of a Pride festival in Owatonna were forced to change plans after pushback from prominent members of the community, including Mayor Tom Kuntz. They celebrated anyway.  A church and a restaurant that planned on hosting portions of the day’s events both received hateful messages from community members, as well as visits from the […]

Minnesota opens investigation into possible wage theft at recently closed HyLife Foods plant

By: - June 14, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is investigating possible wage theft at HyLife Foods, a pork processing plant in Windom, Minnesota, that closed permanently and laid off its 1,000-person workforce June 2. The investigation opens up a path to legal work authorization and protection from deportation for up to about 500 foreign workers who […]

In bankruptcy’s wake, a Minnesota meatpacking plant’s visa workers face an uncertain future

By: - May 17, 2023

Days after HyLife Foods filed its bankruptcy paperwork, workers anxiously awaited answers from management about its plans for the pork processing plant. The employees gathered in the plant’s cafeteria before their shifts on May 1 to listen to an executive read a list of what appeared to be frequently asked questions and corresponding answers about […]

Wild ‘super pigs’ are rooting toward Minnesota. The state wants to keep them out.

By: - April 4, 2023

This story was originally published by Investigate Midwest. Minnesota has long enjoyed its status as a state free of wild pigs, avoiding the billions of dollars of damages suffered each year by other states from invasive feral swine. Now, Canadian “super pigs” are threatening the state, and pork producers and regulators are concerned about the […]

Agriculture pollutes underground drinking water in Minnesota. Well owners pay the price.

By: - January 17, 2023

WEAVER, Wabasha County  — The water that pours out of the taps at Jeff Broberg’s house is crystal clear, refreshing and odorless. But Broberg, 68, doesn’t drink it. The issue is only visible on the molecular scale. Like Broberg, many rural Minnesotans rely on private wells, which tap into groundwater systems spread underneath rolling crop […]

Secret Subsidies: Program meant to help farmers in trade war overspent, lacked transparency

By: , and - November 3, 2022

A U.S. Department of Agriculture program touted as relief for lost trade during the Trump-era trade war with China spent unprecedented amounts of money, bypassed Congressional approval and lacked checks to ensure the payments went to eligible farmers. The Market Facilitation Program doled out more than $23 billion, more than all other USDA direct payment […]

JBS, Tyson Foods invest in smartwatch app that monitors workers

By: - October 14, 2022

Two of America’s largest meat companies — JBS and Tyson Foods — have invested in a smartwatch application that allows managers to monitor workers’ movements. The startup behind the application, Mentore, claims to improve worker productivity while reducing injuries. The repetitive, fast and taxing work of cutting and packing protein makes meat processing plants some of the […]

In Washington, agricultural policymakers circulate among Farm Bureau, USDA and industry

By: - September 2, 2022

This story originally appeared in Investigate Midwest.  In the weeks prior to leaving his role as U.S. Department of Agriculture chief of staff in January 2021, Joby Young received emails from lobbyists with links to private-industry jobs with titles like “director of government relations,” “project manager, environmental stewardship” and “director of crop insurance.” Private-sector job […]