President Trump signs Executive Order to keep processing plants open; USDA to begin implementation

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue released the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order to keep meat and poultry processing facilities open during the COVID-19 national emergency.

“I thank President Trump for signing this executive order and recognizing the importance of keeping our food supply chain safe, secure, and plentiful. Our nation’s meat and poultry processing facilities play an integral role in the continuity of our food supply chain,” Perdue said. “Maintaining the health and safety of these heroic employees in order to ensure that these critical facilities can continue operating is paramount. I also want to thank the companies who are doing their best to keep their workforce safe as well as keeping our food supply sustained. USDA will continue to work with its partners across the federal government to ensure employee safety to maintain this essential industry.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor have put out guidance for plants to implement to help ensure employee safety to reopen plants or to continue to operate those still open. Under the Executive Order and the authority of the Defense Production Act, USDA will work with meat processing plants to affirm they will operate in accordance with the CDC and OSHA guidance, and then work with state and local officials to ensure that these plants are allowed to operate to produce the meat protein that Americans need. USDA will continue to work with the CDC, OSHA, FDA, and state and local officials to ensure that facilities implementing this guidance to keep employees safe can continue operating.

President Trump used the Defense Production Act to ensure Americans have a reliable supply of products like beef, pork, and poultry following the recent closure of three pork processing plants in the Midwest. Last week, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association launched a grassroots Phone2Action campaign urging the administration for federal assistance and guidance. More than 1,400 advocates sent emails to the president, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Purdue.

“We’re working very hard to make sure our food supply chain is sound and plentiful,” the president said.

USDA will release additional information and details soon.

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