WASHINGTON – US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue commended “safe reopening of critical infrastructure meatpacking facilities across the United States,” in a May 8 statement published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA listed 14 facilities that planned to resume operation in the coming week, following President Donald Trump’s executive order on April 28, which cited the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open.
“President Trump took decisive action last week to ensure America’s meatpacking facilities reopen in a safe way to ensure America’s producers and ranchers will be able to bring their product to market,” Perdue said. “I want to thank the patriotic and heroic meatpacking facility workers who are returning to work this week so the millions of Americans who depend on them for food security can continue to do so.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents thousands of meat packaging workers around the country, responded to Perdue’s comment saying more action needs to be taken by the Trump administration to ensure worker safety.
“We are calling on the White House to end the delays and immediately mandate that all meatpacking companies provide the highest level of protective equipment, ensure daily testing is available for all meatpacking workers, enforce physical distancing at all plants, provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected, and establish constant monitoring by federal inspectors to ensure these safety standards are enforced,” said Anthony M. Perrone, international president of the UFCW.
The union also said that it has seen more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 30 deaths due to the pandemic.
The statement highlighted the following plants as those planning to reopen:
- Tyson – Perry, Iowa (pork)
- Tyson – Waterloo, Iowa (pork)
- Tyson – Logansport, Ind. (pork)
- Tyson – Robards, Ky. (poultry)
- Tyson – Portland, Maine (further processor)
- Tyson – Pasco, Wash. (beef)
- Tyson – Dakota City, Neb. (beef)
- Aurora Packing – Aurora, Ill. (beef)
- JBS – Green Bay, Wis. (beef)
- JBS – Worthington, Minn. (pork)
- Smithfield – Monmouth, Ill. (pork)
- Smithfield – Sioux Falls, SD (pork)
- Indiana Packers – Delphi, Ind. (pork)
- Jennie-O Turkey Store – Willmar, Minn. (poultry)