Trump to Order Meat Processing Plants to Stay Open - Modern Farmer

Trump to Order Meat Processing Plants to Stay Open

The president is reportedly set to use the Defense Production Act.

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in 2018.
Photography by Evan El-Amin on Shutterstock

President Donald Trump has decided to compel meat processing plants to stay open, despite concerns these facilities might not be safe for employees during the pandemic.

Bloomberg reports that Trump is set to sign an executive order using the Defense Production Act to push shuttered meat processing plants into production. This will designate these facilities as critical infrastructure, and shield companies from law suits when they reopen. 

Trump’s order came after large meat companies such as Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA shut down a number of processing facilities across the country in recent weeks due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Meat plants have become hot spots for virus transmission, as their employees work in close proximity, making physical distancing difficult. 

Last week, Tyson announced it was closing down its largest pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after almost 200 of its workers tested positive for COVID-19. 

The administration is reportedly working with the Department of Labor to determine which employees can stay home when plants reopen, but labor unions have called for more protections for the frontline meat workers who will have to operate these plants. 

Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said plants wouldn’t have had to close if the Trump administration had developed more meaningful safety requirements early on in the crisis. “We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products,” he said in a statement. “When poultry plants shut down, it’s for deep cleaning and to save workers’ lives.”

As plants closed in recent weeks, a number of food company CEOs warned about disruptions in the meat supply chain if facilities remain closed. On Sunday, Tyson’s CEO, John Tyson, published a full-page ad in the New York Times warning that the “food supply chain is breaking.” In mid-April, Smithfield CEO, Kenneth Sullivan warned that the plant closures were “pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.” 

Supply chain experts have said there isn’t a need to worry yet about short term meat shortages, as the USDA has a huge frozen stockpile, but prices could rise for certain products.

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4 years ago

But yet the conman in chief couldn’t invoke DPA for more PPE for health workers, thats pretty sad but not unexpected from tRump. Maybe this is so he doesn’t run out of “hamberders”

4 years ago

I’m hearing that yes,he will not allow them to shut down,BUT that they are going to euthanize the animals,and not sell the meat to the US consumers!
And then bring in meat from other countries with lower quality meats in every way, while our farmers and ranchers are being encouraged to find “other” employment!I
Some of our food producers are committing suicide over what’s happening.

4 years ago

I’m sick and tired of hearing people blaming the President, saying he didn’t move fast enough to prevent the virus spread! Look at the FACTS and not the political rhetoric. The administration moved quickly and efficiently. We all need to habitually do our own legitimate, objective research for truth and facts, without bias! no matter what Party we support. Lots of lies and half-truths out there…sad. Like they say, “Get the facts, Jack!”