Let’s review what’s happened here.
Trump ordered the plants to open via an Executive Order deeming meat essential to the national defense.
It is important that processors of beef, pork, and poultry (“meat and poultry”) in the food supply chain continue operating and fulfilling orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans. [Nutritional comment: grains and vegetables provide plenty of protein.]
A Missouri Court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the primary jurisdiction over worker safety in meat processing plants during the Covid-19 crisis—not health agencies. The USDA applauded this ruling as “directly in line with what the Federal government has been calling for companies and communities to do in light of the President’s Executive Order.”
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue instructed companies to open, explaining that USDA was now in charge of making sure they do.
He wrote another order saying that “Maintaining the health and safety of plant employees in addition to ensuring continued operations and a plentiful food supply during this unprecedented time is paramount.”
This, alas, defies credulity, and it is no surprise that groups representing slaughterhouse workers say not enough is being done to protect them. OSHA is not enforcing CDC guidelines for social distancing, frequent hand washing and other such measures.
Indeed, meat processing plants are opening. including a Tyson’s slaughterhouse with more than 1000 workers who have been infected.
The National Pork Board has an interactive map showing the status of pork plants. It also lists Resources for Pork Packers & Processors.
We will have meat—at higher prices, of course.
But at what cost to workers’ lives?