Trump orders U.S. meat-processing plants to stay open despite coronavirus fears
President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered meat-processing plants to stay open to protect the food supply in the United States, despite concerns about coronavirus outbreaks, drawing a backlash from unions that said at-risk workers required more protection.
With concerns about food shortages and supply chain disruptions, Trump issued an executive order using the Defense Production Act to mandate that the plants continue to function. The world’s biggest meat companies, including Smithfield Foods Inc SFII.UL, Cargill Inc CARG.UL, JBS USA [JBS.UL] and Tyson, have halted operations at about 20 slaughterhouses and processing plants in North America as workers fall ill, stoking global fears of a meat shortage.
The order is designed in part to give companies legal cover with more liability protection in case employees catch the virus as a result of having to go to work. John H. Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, said on Sunday that the food supply chain was “breaking” and warned of the potential for meat shortages. Before issuing the executive order, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that signing the order, “... will solve any liability problems,” adding, “And we always work with the farmers. There’s plenty of supply.” The executive order, released Tuesday evening, said the closure of just one large beef-processing plant could result in 10 million fewer individual servings of beef in a day.
29 April 2020