(Washington, D.C., April 28, 2020) U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order to keep meat and poultry processing facilities open during the COVID-19 national emergency.
“I thank President Trump for signing this executive order and recognizing the importance of keeping our food supply chain safe, secure and plentiful. Our nation’s meat and poultry processing facilities plan an integral role in the continuity of our food supply chain,” said Secretary Perdue.
“Maintaining the health and safety of these heroic employees in order to ensure that these critical facilities can continue operating is paramount. I also want to thank the companies who are doing their best to keep their workforce safe as well as keeping our food supply sustained. USDA will continue to work with its partners across the federal government to ensure employee safety to maintain this essential industry.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor have put out guidance for plants to implement to help ensure employee safety to reopen plants or to continue to operate those still open.
Under the Executive Order and the authority of the Defense Production Act, USDA will work with meat processing to affirm they will operate in accordance with the CDC and OSHA guidance, and then work with state and local officials to ensure that these plants are allowed to operate to produce the meat protein that Americans need.
USDA will continue to work with the CDC, OSHA, FDA, and state and local officials to ensure that facilities implementing this guidance to keep employees safe can continue operating.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Responds to Executive Order
DENVER (April 28, 2020) – Today, President Trump signed an executive order that orders beef packing plants to remain open and employees in those plants to remain at work through the COVID-19 pandemic. The action taken by President Trump will help keep the beef supply chain intact, ensure beef remains available to consumers and ultimately provide the food that American consumers will need to reopen the nation.
“While there are currently no widespread shortages of beef, we are seeing supply chain disruptions because of plant closures and reductions in the processing speed at many, if not most, beef processing plants in the United States. We thank President Trump for his recognition of the problem and the action he has taken today to begin correcting it,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “American consumers rely on a safe, steady supply of food, and President Trump understands the importance of keeping cattle and beef moving to ensure agriculture continues to operate at a time when the nation needs it most.”
Protecting the flow of cattle through the supply chain was among the first priorities for NCBA at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The mounting problems facing cattle producers as the supply chain slowed, led NCBA to redouble its efforts to keep cattle and beef moving. Today’s action comes because of the association’s work on behalf of the entire industry. NCBA’s work on this top is critical to reducing the damage being inflicted upon cattle producers who are unable to get cattle shipped or processed because of unprecedented supply chain interruptions.
“We understand and appreciate the difficulties facing processing plant workers during this crisis,” said Woodall. “Processing plant employees play a role that is critical to the security of this nation and America’s cattle producers offer their sincere gratitude for the work they are doing to keep food shortages from compounding the complex issues we’re facing.”
National Chicken Council President Responds to Executive Order
Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2020) – In response to President Trump’s Executive Order to keep meat and poultry plants operating during this national crisis, National Chicken Council President Mike Brown issued the following statement:
“We are grateful to President Trump for making this bold decision to protect our country’s food supply during these unprecedented times.
“The chicken industry’s main goal is to keep our essential workers safe and healthy.
“Our industry is following all CDC, USDA and OSHA guidelines, and many have consulted with infectious disease physicians to develop site plans. Companies began weeks ago enacting additional measures to keep workers safe, such as increased cleaning and sanitation of the plants, temperature checks before entering facilities, social distancing measures, installing plastic dividers between work stations, paid leave for sick or at-risk employees, issuing masks and other personal protective gear, among many other measures.
“While doing everything we can to keep employees safe and healthy, the biggest challenge has been inconsistencies among the states and many localities in enforcing CDC guidelines in plants that add to confusion and can lead to unnecessary shutdowns. This patchwork approach is posing grave risk to the supply chain and threatening great disruption to NCC member companies. There must be a uniform approach across all states, and we are hopeful that today’s announcement is a good first step in achieving that goal. NCC is urging states to immediately adopt CDC, OSHA and USDA guidelines for a uniform approach to first keep workers safe and keep Americans fed.”
NPPC State on Implementation of Defense Production Act
Washington, D.C., April 29, 2020 – President Trump last night invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to extend much-needed federal support to the U.S. pork production system. By triggering the DPA, the federal government will prioritize the continuity of pork processing plant operations.
The following statement may be attributed to Howard “A.V.” Roth, NPPC president and a producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin.
“We are thankful for the support extended by our federal, state and local government leaders. As we all work together to protect workers and the nation’s food supply, we need uniform and consistent solutions and all available resources to address this unprecedented crisis. We thank President Trump for taking this step.
“We must safely stabilize the current plant capacity challenge and overcome other major hurdles facing the nation’s pork production system, one that employs 550,000 workers and generates $23 billion in personal income across rural America. Hog values have plummeted to virtually zero, and hog farmers are facing liquidation of their farms and other assts without immediate relief, including expanded financial aid without payment limitations.
“While getting pork packing plants back online is foundational, the tragic reality is that millions of hogs can’t enter the food supply. We need coordinated partnership between the industry and federal, state and local authorities to euthanize pigs in an orderly, ethical and safe way.”