“The investigation of the Special Subcommittee found that former President Trump’s USDA Political Appointees Cooperated with large meat processing enterprises lead the efforts of the entire administration to force workers to remain on work during the coronavirus crisis, despite dangerous conditions, and even to prevent the imposition of of common sense mitigation measures,” said Committee Chairman James Clyburn, Rep. US House of Representatives. in statement on Thursday.
North American Meat Institute, Industry trade group criticized the committee’s report as “biased” and said it “misrepresents truth about the meat and poultry industry work to protect employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“The House Select Committee has done the nation a disservice. The committee could try to find out what the industry has done to stop the spread of Covid among workers in the meat and poultry industry, which reduces the number of positive cases associated with with industry, while cases were on the rise across the country. Instead, the Committee uses 20/20 historical data and sample data to support the story is completely unrepresentative of first days of unprecedented national emergency.” — Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of This was reported by the North American Meat Institute. in statement.
For example, a report found that the JBS executive received an email from a doctor in April 2020. in hospital near Cactus JBS, Texas facility saying “100% of all Covid-19 patients we have in hospitals are either direct employees or family member[s] of your employees.” The doctor warned: “Your employees will get sick and may die if this factory continues to operate.”
The emails prompted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s chief of staff to achieve out to JBS, but this remains The report states that it is not clear if JBS ever responded to the email.
“This is a coordinated campaign priority industry production over Health of workers and communities and contributed to dozens of thousands of sick, hundreds of workers are dying and the virus is spreading to nearby areas,” Rep. Clyburn said.
“Shameful Behavior of corporate executives seeking to make a profit in any cost during the crisis and government officials seeking to carry out their orders regardless of of resulting harm public should never be repeated,” he said.
In response to a CNN inquiry for commentJBS, in The email did not address physicians warning, the committee stressed.
“In 2020, how world faced in challenge of focusing on Covid-19, we have learned many lessons, and health and safety of our team members guided all our activities and decisions. During this critical time, we did everything possible to ensure in safety of our people who saved our critical the food supply chain is working,” spokeswoman Nikki Richardson said. for JBS USA and Pilgrim.
In the course of the investigation, examples emerged of some leaders in the meat processing industry acknowledge that transparency about weak mitigation measures and high infection rates in plants will cause anxiety.
The report, citing the company’s email, says on On April 7, 2020, National Beef managers discussed the need to avoid explicitly notifying workers when an infected plant worker returns to work. work with doctor’s permission, saying that they should instead “announce the style of line meetings”, probably meaning announcements made during an informal in- people huddle together of production line workers, “hoping it doesn’t provoke more panic.”
Meat Packing Companies and the US Department of Agriculture “jointly lobbied the White House to dissuade workers from staying in home or leave,” the statement said.
In addition, meat processing plants successfully lobbied USDA officials to advocate for Branch of A labor policy that has deprived its employees of benefits if they decide to stay home or get out while also seeking protection from legal liability if their employees become ill or die on work, according to the report.
Probe found that in April 2020, executives of JBS, Smithfield, Tyson and other meat companies approached a Trump cabinet member and then the secretary of state. of Farming Sonny Perdue to ‘raise need for importance messages of our workforce remains in work to the POTUS or VP level” and make clear what’s to be afraid of Covid-19 is not reason quit your job and you have no right for unemployment compensation if you do.”
On April 28, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order directing meatpacking follow guidance issued by CDC and OSHA on how to ensure the safety of workers so that processing plants can remain open
“Meat processing enterprises critical infrastructure and are essential for national security of our nation. Keeping these facilities up and running critical into the food supply chain and we expect our partners across the country work with us on This issue.”
The committee’s report states that meat processing companies and lobbyists have been working with USDA and the White House in an attempt to prevent state and local health departments from regulating coronavirus precautions. in plants.
Retrieving content of deeply disturbing report, press secretary for The USDA stated that “many of in decisions made by the previous administration in line with Our values. This administration is committed to food safety of meat and poultry industry and working with our partners throughout government to protect workers and ensure their health and safety gets the priority it deserves.”
representative for perdue, who is an currently Chancellor of university of Georgia, according to Purdue, is “focused on his new position serving students of Georgia” and did not provide comment on committee report.
Former President Trump did not respond to a request from CNN Business. for comment.
False claims of coming meat shortage
The report called these warnings “far-fetched, if not outright.” false.”
“Just three days after Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan publicly warned that the closure of the Smithfield plant “pushed our country dangerously close to edge in terms of meat supplies to our country,” he asked industry representatives issue statement that “there were many of meat is enough. . . for export,” while Smithfield told meat importers the same, the report said.
Investigation found Industry officials felt that Smithfield’s statements about the meat supply crisis were “deliberately scary”. people.”
At the time, food experts told CNN Business that despite meat shortages, times, various cuts of meat may not be available.
Tyson said via an email response that he is reviewing the report.
Smithfield said it took “all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our workers” when he encountered “first-of in kind challenge” two years ago.
“To date, we have invested more over $900 million to support work safety, including paying workers to stay at home, and exceeded CDC and OSHA guidelines,” said Smithfield spokesman Jim Monroe. in email to CNN Business.
“Meat production system it’s a modern miracle, but it’s not one which can be redirected to flip of a switch. This is challenge we faced as restaurants are closed, consumption patterns changed and the pigs supportedup on farms with nowhere to go. The concern we expressed was very real and we are grateful that true the food crisis has been averted and we are beginning to return to normal… Have we made every effort to share with government officials our point of view on pandemic and how it affected food production system? Absolutely,” he said.
Failed to contact Cargill and National Beef immediately for comment.
The committee said its report was based on on more over 151,000 pages of documents collected from meat processing companies and interest groups, calls with meatpacking workers, union representatives, and former USDA and OSHA officials, among others.
— Jennifer Korn of CNN Business contributed to this report.