In this file:

 

·         Meatpackers misled public, successfully lobbied Trump administration to limit COVID rules, report alleges

… The 12-member, Democratic-controlled committee found that Sullivan's lobbying resulted in "watered-down" guidance from the CDC, setting the stage for weak regulations on all meatpacking plants in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report argues that meatpacking CEOs — led by Sullivan — convinced President Donald Trump's agriculture department appointees that the country was heading for a food shortage crisis if the plants didn't continue running. At the same time, according to emails obtained by the committee, industry data showed that the country had enough meat in storage for more than a year. In one email, an industry lobbyist even accused Sullivan — her group's client — of "stoking fear" …

 

·         Meatpackers hyped ‘baseless’ shortage to keep plants open despite covid risks: report

A House panel alleges that Tyson and other meat processors heavily influenced Trump’s executive order that compelled plants to stay open.

 

·         Trump officials and meat industry blocked life-saving Covid controls, investigation finds

Congressional investigation reveals the lengths meat industry went to downplay risks to workers and lobby receptive Trump officials

 

·         NAMI Media Release: House Committee Report Distorts the Record: Worker Health and Safety is First Priority in Meat and Poultry Industry

“The House Select Committee has done the nation a disservice. The Committee could have tried to learn what the industry did to stop the spread of COVID among meat and poultry workers, reducing positive cases associated with the industry while cases were surging across the country. Instead, the Committee uses 20/20 hindsight and cherry picks data to support a narrative that is completely unrepresentative of the early days of an unprecedented national emergency.”

 

·         Tyson Foods authored draft version of Trump’s 2020 executive order to keep meatpacking plants open during COVID-19 pandemic, emails show

… new Congressional investigation shows that Tyson Foods — mostly in collaboration with Smithfield Foods — authored the specific language that the industry pushed to federal officials…

 

 

 

Meatpackers misled public, successfully lobbied Trump administration to limit COVID rules, report alleges

 

Tyler Jett, Des Moines Register (IA)

May 12, 2022

 

When federal health officials drafted their first recommendations in response to a COVID-19 outbreak at a meatpacking plant, Smithfield Foods CEO Ken Sullivan grabbed his pencil.

 

It was late April 2020, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff had just toured Smithfield's Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pork processing plant, where 900 employees had contracted the virus. Two workers had died.

 

The staff created a list of recommendations. They wrote that the company should spread out dining hall tables, give employees face masks and designate paths where workers would only move one direction.

 

Sullivan marked up the proposal, scribbling stars next to recommendations that the company couldn't do in its old plant. He scanned the document and emailed it to Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach, according to internal communications published in a U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis report released Thursday morning.

 

"The best we can do in these environments is aggressively mitigate risk, not eliminate it," Sullivan wrote.

 

"We are on it," Ibach responded an hour later.

 

Sullivan — and other meatpacking executives — got their way, the report's authors concluded.

 

The 12-member, Democratic-controlled committee found that Sullivan's lobbying resulted in "watered-down" guidance from the CDC, setting the stage for weak regulations on all meatpacking plants in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report argues that meatpacking CEOs — led by Sullivan — convinced President Donald Trump's agriculture department appointees that the country was heading for a food shortage crisis if the plants didn't continue running.

 

At the same time, according to emails obtained by the committee, industry data showed that the country had enough meat in storage for more than a year. In one email, an industry lobbyist even accused Sullivan — her group's client — of "stoking fear."

 

"Meatpacking companies knew the risk posed by the coronavirus to their workers and knew it wasn’t a risk that the country needed them to take," the authors of the report wrote...

 

... In a statement Thursday morning, National American Meat Institute CEO Julie Anna Potts said the subcommittee's report ignored key facts. She said companies spent billions of dollars to protect workers "while keeping food on Americans' tables."

 

NAMI is the lobbying firm for industry giants, including Smithfield, Tyson and JBS.

 

“The House Select Committee has done the nation a disservice," Potts said...

 

Sonny Perdue convinced CDC director that regulations would create 'protein shortage' ...

 

After call with meatpacking CEOs, Mike Pence urged employees to work ... 

 

Meat lobby spokesperson: Smithfield Foods is 'directing the panic' ... 

 

much more, including links   

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2022/05/12/meatpackers-trump-administration-limits-covid-rules-safety-coronavirus/9738189002/

 

 

Meatpackers hyped ‘baseless’ shortage to keep plants open despite covid risks: report

A House panel alleges that Tyson and other meat processors heavily influenced Trump’s executive order that compelled plants to stay open.

 

By Taylor Telford, The Washington Post

May 12, 2022

 

The biggest players in the U.S. meat industry pressed “baseless” claims of beef and pork shortages early in the pandemic to persuade the Trump White House to keep processing plants running, disregarding the coronavirus risks that eventually killed at least 269 workers, according to a special House committee investigating the nation’s pandemic response.

 

In a report released Thursday, the committee alleges that Tyson Foods’s legal team prepared a draft with input from other companies that became the basis for an executive order to keep the plants open the Trump administration issued in April 2020, making it difficult for workers to stay home.

 

“Meatpacking companies knew the risk posed by the coronavirus to their workers and knew it wasn’t a risk that the country needed them to take,” according to the report by the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis. “They nonetheless lobbied aggressively — successfully enlisting USDA as a close collaborator in their efforts — to keep workers on the job in unsafe conditions, to ensure state and local health authorities were powerless to mandate otherwise, and to be protected against legal liability for the harms that would result.”

 

The report alleges the nation’s largest meatpackers and industry trade groups repeatedly misled the public when they warned that a slowdown in their operations posed an imminent threat to the nation’s meat supplies. But “these fears were baseless,” the investigation found.

 

The report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is based on review of 151,000 pages of documents, more than a dozen survey calls with meatpacking workers union representatives, former U.S. Department of Agriculture and Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials, and state and local health authorities. The subcommittee also held a staff briefing with OSHA and USDA.

 

Internal industry documents showed that “despite awareness of the high risks of coronavirus spread in their plants, meatpacking companies engaged in a concerted effort with Trump Administration political officials to insulate themselves from coronavirus-related oversight, to force workers to continue working in dangerous conditions, and to shield themselves from legal liability for any resulting worker illness or death,” the report states.

 

In the run-up to the publication of the executive order, executives from Smithfield and Tyson held calls with members of the Trump White House, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short...  

 

more

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/05/12/meatpackers-covid-deaths-trump-industry/

 

 

Trump officials and meat industry blocked life-saving Covid controls, investigation finds

Congressional investigation reveals the lengths meat industry went to downplay risks to workers and lobby receptive Trump officials

 

Nina Lakhani in New York, The Guardian (UK)

12 May 2022

 

Trump officials “collaborated” with the meatpacking industry to downplay the threat of Covid to plant workers and block public health measures which could have saved lives, a damning new investigation has found.

 

Internal documents reviewed by the congressional select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis reveal how industry representatives lobbied government officials to stifle “pesky” health departments from imposing evidence-based safety measures to curtail the virus spreading – and tried to obscure worker deaths from these authorities.

 

At least 59,000 workers at five of the largest meatpacking companies – Tyson Foods, JBS USA Holdings, Smithfield Foods, Cargill and National Beef Packing Company which are the subject of the congressional inquiry – contracted Covid in the first year of the pandemic, of whom at least 269 died.

 

According to internal communications, the companies were warned about workers and their families falling sick within weeks of the virus hitting the US. Despite this, company representatives enlisted industry-friendly Trump appointees at the USDA to fight their battles against Covid regulations and oversight.

 

In addition, company executives intentionally stoked fears about meat shortages in order to justify continuing to operate the plants under dangerous conditions.

 

The fears were baseless – there were no meat shortages in the US, while exports to China hit record highs.

 

Yet in April 2020, Trump issued an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat plants open following a flurry of communication between the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the vice-president’s office, USDA allies and company executives.

 

The order, which was proposed by Smithfield and Tyson (whose legal department also wrote the draft), was an overt attempt to override health departments and force meat plant workers – who are mostly immigrants, refugees and people of color – to keep working without adequate protections while shielding the industry from lawsuits.

 

James Clyburn, chairman of the subcommittee, condemned the conduct of the industry executives and their government allies as “shameful”.

 

“Trump’s political appointees at USDA collaborated with large meatpacking companies to lead an administration-wide effort to force workers to remain on the job during the coronavirus crisis despite dangerous conditions, and even to prevent the imposition of commonsense mitigation measures. This coordinated campaign prioritized industry production over the health of workers and communities, and contributed to tens of thousands of workers becoming ill, hundreds of workers dying, and the virus spreading throughout surrounding areas.”

 

The meatpacking industry, which includes slaughterhouses and processing plants – is one of the most profitable and dangerous in the US. It is a monopoly business, with just a handful of powerful multinationals dominating the supply chain which, even before Covid, was bad news for farmers, workers, consumers and animal welfare...

 

more

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/12/meatpacking-industry-trump-downplay-covid-threat

 

 

House Committee Report Distorts the Record: Worker Health and Safety is First Priority in Meat and Poultry Industry

 

Source: North American Meat Institute (NAMI)

May 12, 2022

 

WASHINGTON, DC – The North American Meat Institute, the nation’s trade association for meat and poultry packers and processors, today said the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis’ partisan report distorts the truth about the meat and poultry industry’s work to protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The following is a statement from Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute:

 

“The Meat Institute and its member companies voluntarily provided hundreds of thousands of pages to the Committee. The report ignores the rigorous and comprehensive measures companies enacted to protect employees and support their critical infrastructure workers.

 

“The meat and poultry industry, like many industries, was challenged by the pandemic in the spring of 2020. As more became known about the spread of the virus, the meat industry spent billions of dollars to reverse the pandemic’s trajectory, protecting meat and poultry workers while keeping food on Americans’ tables and our farm economy working.”

 

“The House Select Committee has done the nation a disservice. The Committee could have tried to learn what the industry did to stop the spread of COVID among meat and poultry workers, reducing positive cases associated with the industry while cases were surging across the country. Instead, the Committee uses 20/20 hindsight and cherry picks data to support a narrative that is completely unrepresentative of the early days of an unprecedented national emergency.”

 

###

 

About North American Meat Institute

The Meat Institute is the United States’ oldest and largest trade association representing packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal, turkey, and processed meat products. NAMI members include more than 350 meat packing and processing companies, the majority of which have fewer than 100 employees, and account for more than 95 percent of the United States’ output of meat and 70 percent of turkey production.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 12, 2022

CONTACT: Sarah Little (443) 440-0029

 

source url

https://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/display/ReleaseDetails/i/205914/pid/287

 

 

Tyson Foods authored draft version of Trump’s 2020 executive order to keep meatpacking plants open during COVID-19 pandemic, emails show

 

By Madison McVan, Investigate Midwest

May 12, 2022

 

Lawyers for Tyson Foods, one of America’s largest meatpacking companies, drafted an early version of a 2020 executive order that allowed plants to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Congressional report based on company emails shows.

 

It's been reported that the meatpacking industry wrote a draft version of President Donald Trump's executive order, but the new Congressional investigation shows that Tyson Foods — mostly in collaboration with Smithfield Foods — authored the specific language that the industry pushed to federal officials. Similar language in Tyson's draft would appear in the finalized executive order signed a week later.

 

It’s one example laid out in detail in the report that shows meatpacking CEOs petitioning their allies in the federal government to curb any safety measures that “could reduce their production and profitability.”

 

The report, compiled by the staff of the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and released Thursday, reveals that the country’s largest meat companies coordinated with each other — and with political appointees at the federal agency charged with their regulation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture — to keep meatpacking plants operating at maximum capacity while thousands of workers were infected in the COVID-19 pandemic’s early months.

 

Meatpacking industry leaders understood the threat coronavirus posed to their employees, emails show. But rather than enforcing safety measures, such as social distancing and masking, the companies instead asked the federal government to exclude them from public health measures meant to protect employees from illness and death.

 

The USDA largely did as the companies asked, according to the report. In several instances where state or local officials temporarily closed down meatpacking plants due to high rates of coronavirus infections among workers, USDA leaders intervened on the companies’ behalf and pushed public health officials to reopen plants.

 

USDA officials led the charge to convince the White House to enact the executive order authored by Tyson.

 

“The shameful conduct of corporate executives pursuing profit at any cost during a crisis and government officials eager to do their bidding regardless of resulting harm to the public must never be repeated,” subcommittee chairman Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said in a press release provided to Investigate Midwest.

 

In media statements, the companies named in the report defended their overall safety efforts during the pandemic, but they did not address any of the specific actions outlined in the subcommittee's investigation.

 

Tyson Foods said it has worked with officials at all levels of government to navigate the pandemic's challenges. (Tyson's fact sheet on its COVID-19 response can be read here.)

 

"This collaboration is crucial to ensuring the essential work of the U.S. food supply chain and our continued efforts to keep team members safe," it said in a statement...

 

‘Potentially explosive’ executive order ... 

 

The ‘industry’s go-to fixer’ ... 

 

‘Pesky health departments’ ... 

 

more, including links  

https://investigatemidwest.org/2022/05/12/tyson-foods-authored-draft-version-of-trumps-2020-executive-order-to-keep-meatpacking-plants-open-during-covid-19-pandemic-emails-show/