United States President Donald Trump has ordered meat processing plants to remain in operation, labeling them as “critical infrastructure.” The order was made through the Defense Production Act of 1950, which gives the president the authority to control the manufacturing output of critical items during a national emergency.
The first time Trump invoked this order was last month when he demanded General Motors to up ventilator production. After it was estimated that meat production worldwide could be cut by 80% and fears emerged over the nation’s food supply, Trump signaled he would sign an executive order on Tuesday, April 28.
Tyson Foods, as well as other food-processing companies, have announced the closure of plants after a spate of COVID-19 cases among plant workers in the US. The closures include two of the nation’s largest plants.
The president has faced criticism for his response. President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Stuart Appelbaum, said: “We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products.”
The president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 – a union which represents about 3,000 workers at the JBS meat-processing plant in Greeley, Colorado – Kim Cordova stated that the order would “only ensure that more workers get sick, jeopardizing lives, family’s income, communities, and of course, the country’s food supply chain.”