President Donald Trump is using the Defense Production Act to ensure that Americans have a reliable supply of products like pork, beef and poultry. Trump announced Tuesday evening he is signing an executive order providing the authority to ensure the continued supply of pork, beef and poultry to the American people.
Under the order, the Department of Agriculture is directed to ensure America's meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible. To ensure worker safety, these processors will continue to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
A number of America's large meat processors and their workers have been affected by outbreaks of COVID-19. In addition, recent actions in some states have led to the complete closure of large processing facilities. This action will further ensure that vitally important food processors are able to continue to operate safely and meet the consumer needs of the American people.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released the following statement after President Trump signed the 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 play an integral role in the continuity of our food supply chain," says 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 CDC and OSHA have put out guidance for plants to implement to help ensure employee safety to reopen plants or to continue to operate those still open. These measures include: testing, temperature checks, face coverings, social distancing of employees where possible and much more. To support employees many North American Meat Institute members are raising pay, offering bonuses, providing paid sick leave and increasing health benefits.
"By keeping meat and poultry producers operating, the President's executive order will help avert hardship for agricultural producers and keep safe, affordable food on the tables of American families," says Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. "The safety of the heroic men and women working in the meat and poultry industry is the first priority. And as it is assured, facilities should be allowed to reopen. We are grateful to the President for acting to protect our nation's food supply chain."