WASHINGTON – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced an extension to the one-year “time-limited trial” (TLT) period for approved New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) establishments to operate without line speed limitations.

The TLTs came from an FSIS and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collaboration to experiment with ergonomics, automation and crewing to create custom work environments that will protect food and worker safety while maintaining productivity. In November 2021, the USDA approved six facilities to run TLTs and operate at line speeds exceeding the maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour put into force on June 30, 2021, after a federal court ruling vacated a provision of the NSIS that enabled pork processors to establish maximum line speeds. During the trial period, data was collected to measure the impact of increased speeds on facility workers.

FSIS extended the duration of the TLTs to November 2023. The extension enables the contractors to finalize their reports on the swine data and enables the agency to assess the report’s findings and conclusions to determine future actions.

“The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauds USDA’s decision to allow eligible pork harvest facilities to continue experimenting with ergonomics, automation and crewing while maintaining line speeds that have been proven able to protect food and worker safety for over two decades,” NPPC said in a statement. “Ensuring sufficient harvest capacity is critical to allow America’s pork producers to continue to provide wholesome pork products to consumers. This extension will allow USDA to assess a final report of the data collected during the time-limited trial and determine next steps. NPPC appreciates the extension of the trial period and will continue working with the administration and Congress towards a permanent solution.”