WASHINGTON — The North American Meat Institute acknowledged Tuesday that President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order to ensure the ongoing production of meat and poultry to feed Americans during the COVID-19 crisis.
“By keeping meat and poultry producers operating, the President's Executive Order will help avert hardship for agricultural producers and keep safe, affordable food on the tables of American families,” said Julie Anna Potts, NAMI president and CEO. “The safety of the heroic men and women working in the meat and poultry industry is the first priority. And as it is assured, facilities should be allowed to re-open. We are grateful to the President for acting to protect our nation’s food supply chain.”
The industry has and will continue to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance released Sunday. These measures include: testing, temperature checks, face coverings, social distancing of employees where possible and much more. To support employees many NAMI members are raising pay, offering bonuses, providing paid sick leave and increasing health benefits.
The federal COVID-19 guidelines specific to the meat and poultry industry released Tuesday affirm the steps taken by the industry to protect employees are effective. The guidelines were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“We appreciate the new federal guidelines specific to the meat and poultry industry,” Potts said. “These new guidelines will help ensure public health measures around the country will be consistently applied across all meat and poultry establishments. I am pleased the recommendations mirror the actions already taken by many of our member companies to protect their employees.”
As an essential part of the food supply chain around the world, the Department of Homeland Security deemed meat and poultry production a critical infrastructure sector with a responsibility to continue operations despite state stay-at-home orders.
“Meat and poultry industry employees who continue to show up for work under these difficult circumstances are heroes,” Potts said. “It is important for these workers to know that the industry, the federal government and their local health departments all agree worker health and safety is the most important priority as we work together to produce critical food for the nation.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also released a statement about the guidance and recognized the unique nature of different processing facilities across the nation.
“USDA strongly recommends establishments utilize the recommendations highlighted in the guidance document where practical, recognizing that how they are implemented may differ given the unique circumstances of establishments and processing facilities nationwide,” the department said. “In the event of a closure, establishments should work with the state departments of agriculture and state and local health authorities, in coordination with CDC, to utilize the guidance and develop a plan to safely resume operations as soon as possible.”
Before the first case of the Coronavirus in the U.S., NAMI advised members to work with their local health departments to ensure better understanding of meat and poultry production and the efforts the member company was taking to protect employees and help stop the spread of the Coronavirus in the community.
Meat Institute members have implemented many protections and support for employees including facemasks, temperature checks, social distancing within the facility, paid sick leave, pay raises, additional health care benefits and more.
The North American Meat Institute is a voice for the meat and poultry industry. The Meat Institute’s members process the vast majority of U.S. beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, as well as manufacture the equipment and ingredients needed to produce the safest and highest quality meat and poultry products.