In 1994, things began to look up for Milan, Missouri, a remote, rural community of 2,000 that had been struggling for years with a declining farm economy and weak job market. Premium Standard Farms (PSF), the second-largest pork production company in the U.S., opened a state-of-the-art packing plant in Milan’s rural enterprise zone. Today the company raises 2 million hogs annually on 38,000 acres of rolling northwest Missouri hills, then brings them to Milan for processing.
PSF workers slaughter over 7,000 hogs a day. It’s one of the most dangerous industries in the nation. Most of the workers earn $21,000 per year. After a decade of PSF operations, 22 percent of Milan’s population lives below the poverty level, and the median household income is less than half the U.S. average.
David Ostendorf is a United Church of Christ minister serving as executive director of the Chicago-based Center for New Community, a national organization committed to building community, justice and equality.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).