In this file:

 

·         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.”

 

·         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

 

 

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.”

 

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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

 

 

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