USDA Lets Court Decision on Pork Line Speeds Stand
The Department of Agriculture will not seek to overturn a court ruling ordering the nation’s hog processing facilities to operate at slower line speeds.
Good news for United Food and Commercial Workers International which had asked the USDA to respect the court decision.
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 in the months prior to the pandemic.
Mark Lauritsen, national head of UFCW’s meatpacking operations, spoke with the Ag Information Network.
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 National Pork Producers Council had urged the USDA to appeal the ruling. Its own 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.