Union Asks USDA not to Appeal Court Decision
United Food and Commercial Workers International is asking the USDA to respect a court decision that said the previous administration unlawfully allowed packing plants to ignore limits on pork line speeds.
The court held that USDA acted unlawfully when it refused to consider the impact of eliminating line speeds on worker health and safety in its “New Swine Inspection System” issued a few months before the pandemic began to spread.
Mark Lauritsen is the national head of UFCW’s meatpacking operations.
Lauritsen: “If COVID did anything it should have taught us that if the workers in meatpacking plants aren’t safe the entire food supply chain is not safe and if they're not safe in those places it jeopardizes the hog producer who will then have no place to sell their hogs. It jeopardizes the retailer who will have no product to sell. So what we want to do is work with USDA, work with all the stakeholders involved to make sure that those plants are absolutely as safe as possible so the entire food supply chain stays intact and doesn't suffer like it did last year at this time.”
The court vacated the provision of the New Swine Inspection System that eliminates line speed limits. The judge placed her order on hold for 90 days to allow USDA time to work with impacted plants.
The National Pork Producers Council is urging the USDA to appeal the ruling before it takes effect. Its analysis says the ruling would result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers.