Pork group asks USDA to support faster slaughterhouse speeds

Iowa News

FILE – This April 8, 2020, file photo shows the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., where health officials reported dozens employees have confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection. Meat isn’t going to disappear from supermarket shelves because of outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers at massive slaughterhouses, but there could be less selection and higher prices as plants struggle to stay open. Smithfield Foods has halted work at the plant, as of Monday, April 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A trade group for pork producers is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to appeal a recent federal judge’s order that struck down a federal rule allowing pork processing plants to speed up processing.

The National Pork Producers Council said Tuesday that a Minnesota judge’s ruling in March ordering a return to slower processing line speeds will cost farmers $80 million in reduced income.

Meatpacking worker unions challenged the faster speeds, saying they put workers’ health and safety at risk.

The pork producers group is asking the USDA to appeal the ruling and seek a stay so six plants now operating at faster speeds may continue under the new rules finalized by former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2019.

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