• By The Financial District

Biden Calls For Quicker Meat Processing Lines As Workers Sulk

For years, the Trump administration worked to eliminate limits on the speed a meat processing plant operates at. This was a popular move in the meatpacking industry, which saw it as a way to process more animals and make more money—faster. But facing criticism about the worker safety issues involved, one of the Biden administration’s first moves was to freeze that speed increase.

Photo Insert: Pork carcasses on their way to further cutting

Now, the Biden administration seems to have reversed course, creating a new pilot program for nine large processing plants to increase their speeds, Dan Nosowitz reported for Modern Farmer.

Reuters also reported that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin a one-year trial for nine large hog processing plants, including ones owned by JBS, Tyson, and Smithfield. This trial will, according to the USDA, be used to gather data and create safe work environments in a higher-speed processing environment.

Meat processing line speeds have been a wrestling match for years. There have been various pilot programs similar to this, including one operated under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama.

For that previous program, a 2013 report from the USDA Office of Inspector General found significantly higher safety violations in plants with less oversight and more speed. But because deregulation and increased line speeds are so obviously conducive to higher profits, the meat industry has long pushed for these sorts of permissions.

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The Trump administration’s plan was designed to place monitoring in the hands of the plant operators themselves, rather than USDA inspectors, and to all but eliminate line speed limits.

In March 2021, a federal court essentially canceled the line speed expansion, a decision that was pilloried by the meat industry. The Biden administration, which had previously frozen line speed limit increases, said it would follow the decision of that court.

Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

Now, though, the Biden administration seems to have changed their minds. This news was met with dismay by worker’s rights advocates. “With this decision, the Biden administration is caving to industry pressure,” writes Food & Water Watch’s senior staff attorney, Zach Corrigan, in a statement.

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