President Trump Tuesday ordered meat-processing facilities to stay open to protect the food supply in the US, regardless of concerns about coronavirus crisis, drawing a backlash from unions that said at-risk staff required more safety.
With concerns about food shortages and supply network disruptions, Trump issued a government order utilizing the Defense Production Act to mandate that the plants continue to function.
The world’s largest meat firms, including Smithfield Foods, Cargill, JBS USA, and Tyson, have halted activities at about 20 slaughterhouses and processing facilities in North America as workers fall sick, stoking global fears of a meat shortage.
The order is designed in part to provide firms legal cover with more liability protection in case workers catch the virus as a result of having to go to work.
John H. Tyson, chair of Tyson Foods, stated Sunday that the food Supply network was breaking and warned of the potential for meat shortages.
The executive order, released Tuesday evening, stated the closure of just one big beef-processing unit may result in 10 million fewer individual servings of beef in a day.
A senior administration delegate said the U.S. government would present guidance to attenuate risk to workers who’re susceptible to the virus, such as encouraging older employees and those with other chronic health issues to remain home.
Unions were not impressed. Some farmers stated it was too late because pigs had been euthanized already instead of the pork going to market.