Coronavirus: Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open

Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open during coronavirus pandemic

SEATTLE — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday compelling meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic.

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According to Seattle's KIRO-TV, coronavirus closures at meat packing plants are leading to worries about the food supply chain being disrupted.

This all comes after the chairman of Tyson, the country's second-largest meat producer, said he expects meat shortages because of the plant closures.

A Tyson meat plant near Pasco, Washington, and a Foster Farms plant in Kelso, Washington, are just two of more than a dozen meat plants in several states that have turned into coronavirus hot spots.

"I think the food supply chain is threatened in some parts of the country," said Tom Vilsack, the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Closures are leaving farmers with nowhere to send pigs, chicken or cattle, which could force them to euthanize millions of animals meant for the kitchen table.

“These are serious impacts on the food supply chain," said Chris McGann from the Washington state Department of Agriculture, who added that his state’s food supply chain “is strong and diverse” and “will continue to be able to provide food for the people” there.

McGann also described what folks may see when they go grocery shopping.

“They might notice that some types of meat are unavailable at times; they might notice some food products they can't access at times,” McGann added.

The reduced meat supply is expected to cause prices to go up but expectations are that they will be slight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said late last week that this year it expects beef prices to climb 1% to 2%, poultry as much as 1.5% and pork from 2% to 3%.

McGann is concerned news of possible meat shortages could spur another round of panic buying and hoarding – which we saw earlier in the crisis. He is warning against that.

President Donald Trump speaks during an event about the Paycheck Protection Program used to support small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, in the East Room of the White House, April 28, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump speaks during an event about the Paycheck Protection Program used to support small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, in the East Room of the White House, April 28, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)