To help protect the food supply chain during the COVID-19 national emergency, President Donald Trump signed an executive order April 28 to keep meat and poultry processing facilities open.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue thanked Trump for his response, which seeks to keep employees safe and produce protein Americans need.
“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.”
Under the executive order and authority of the Defense Production Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will work with meat processors to affirm operations in accordance with guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries Rick Pate eased consumer fears, noting that food production, like all industries, is adjusting in response to COVID-19.
“I understand consumers’ concerns as they hear about temporary closures of meat processing plants in the U.S. USDA’s most recent report on commodities shows that at the end of February, total red meat in cold storage was up 5% and chicken was up 6% from last year,” Pate said. “In the short term, consumers may not be able to find specific cuts of meat due to temporary limitations, but there is no widespread shortage of meat. Processing plants are working hard to resume normal production levels while ensuring the health and safety of their employees. I am confident that the American food supply system is safe, abundant and sustainable.”
USDA said additional information and details will be released soon.