President Donald J. Trump is using the Defense Production Act to ensure that Americans have a reliable supply of products like beef, pork, and poultry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the order, the Department of Agriculture is directed to ensure America’s meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible, according to a White House statement this week.
The announcement comes as many major protein processors temporarily halted production due to COVID-19 outbreaks within their ranks.
In addition, the act says processors must continue to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to keep workers safe.
According to the White House statement, this action will further ensure that vitally important food processors are able to continue to operate safely and meet U.S. consumer needs.
Other executive branch statements related to this topic include:
· Given the high concentration of meat and poultry processors in a relatively small number of large facilities, closure of any of these plants could disrupt the food supply and detrimentally impact farmers and ranchers.
· Closure of a single large beef processing plant can result in the loss of more than 10 million servings of beef in a single day.
· The closure of a single plant can eliminate more than 80% of the supply of a particular meat product—like ground beef—to an entire grocery store chain.
· Failure to process livestock could force millions of pounds of meat to disappear from the market, potentially leading to long-term disruptions in the supply chain.
· To combat this crisis, it is vital that these processors are able to remain operating at this critical moment, while also taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities.
In April, Trump announced that the federal government would provide $16 billion to farmers, ranchers, and food producers who experience economic losses during the pandemic.
Through the Department of Agriculture, the federal government is purchasing $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat products of excess supply to be distributed to Americans in need as well as producers with lost markets.
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