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JBS USA's headquarters in Greeley, Colorado. (Stephanie Paige Ogburn/KUNC)
JBS USA's headquarters in Greeley, Colorado. (Stephanie Paige Ogburn/KUNC)

A federal lawsuit that alleges Colorado-based meatpacking company JBS USA engaged in wide-scale discrimination against Muslim employees is heading to trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer denied the company’s request for summary judgment in a case that stems from 2008, when the company’s Greeley beef plant fired Somali Muslim employees who requested that breaks be scheduled to coincide with prayer time during Ramadan, a month of the Islamic calendar that requires daytime fasting and prayer.

In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws, filed two lawsuits against the company, one in Colorado and one in Nebraska. The Nebraska case was decided in JBS’s favor. The Colorado lawsuit, which accuses the company of engaging in a pattern of religious discrimination, has been winding through the legal system.

17-year-old Emily Lambrecht has been showing cattle at the county fair since 2009. (Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)
17-year-old Emily Lambrecht has been showing cattle at the county fair since 2009. (Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

Show day at the Pierce County Fair in Nebraska starts early and goes fast.

I arrived around 9 in the morning, but Emily Lambrecht had already spent an hour and a half in the wash stalls, scrubbing and shampooing her calves so they would sparkle in the show barn.

This was showtime. The 17-year-old 4-H and FFA exhibitor spent months working up to this one day.

There was the time spent selecting show calves from the family herd, then catching and taming those calves so they would walk obediently with a rope halter, like a dog on a leash. Once they’re used to a halter, the calves need to know how to stand square for the livestock judge to scrutinize their genetically derived attributes.

The purple and blue ribbons given to the county fair winners are nice rewards, but Lambrecht doesn’t just show animals at the fair to chase garlands. She also does it for the connection she feels both with her cows and also the other competitors.

Matthias Ripp/flickr
Matthias Ripp/flickr

Corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest are likely to earn far less money this year than they did last year, with some economists predicting that incomes could be less than one tenth of what they were in 2014.

“Overall, substantial decreases in income are projected for 2015,” Gary Schnitkey, professor and agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, wrote in farmdoc Daily. “For a 1,500-acre grain farm, net income is projected at $7,450 in 2015, down from $103,500 in 2014.”

Schnitkey’s math is pretty straight forward. The price of corn, which has been hovering around $4 in July, is low compared to the five year average, so farmers won’t earn much per bushel. Schnitkey said he anticipates prices to remain low for the duration of the year.

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