Farmers in the revered peanut-growing region along the New Mexico-Texas border should be celebrating one of the best harvests in recent memory.
Instead, millions of pounds of their prized sweet Valencia peanuts sit in barns at the Sunland peanut butter plant. The plant shuttered for two months amid a salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states.
Farmers are worried about getting paid. Plant workers are nervous. And residents wonder what toll the shutdown will have on the region's economy.
The tension boiled over on Monday, when the Food and Drug Administration suspended Sunland's registration to operate because of repeated safety violations. It came just as the plant was set to resume shelling the bumper crop.