Trump to order meat processing plants to stay open even as they become coronavirus hot spots

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Published: Apr 29, 2020, 07:40 AM(IST)

Meat processing and packing business in the US Photograph:( Reuters )

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Unions were not impressed. Some farmers said it was too late because pigs had been euthanised already instead of the pork going to market.

United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered meat-processing plants to stay open to protect the food supply in his country, despite concerns about coronavirus outbreaks.

Trump issued an executive order using the Defense Production Act to mandate that the plants continue to function -- with concerns about food shortages and supply chain disruptions in consideration. 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.

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.

The world's biggest meat companies, including Smithfield Foods Inc , Cargill Inc , 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.

Unions were not impressed. Some farmers said it was too late because pigs had been euthanised already instead of the pork going to market.

Also read | Coronavirus cases in US top 1 million; death toll at 57,266

US meat companies slaughtered an estimated 283,000 hogs on Tuesday, down about 43% from before plants began shutting because of the pandemic, according to US Department of Agriculture data. Processors slaughtered about 76,000 cattle, down about 38%.

Critics, however, said the slaughterhouses had been closed for a reason. More than 6,500 meat- and food-processing workers have been infected with or exposed to the new coronavirus, and 20 have died.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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