The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals congratulates U.S. Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.) and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) And Bennie Thompson (D-MS) for reintroducing the gears of Safe Line During COVID -19 Take action to better protect animals, workers and consumers from the dangers posed by higher line speeds in poultry, pig and cattle slaughterhouses. This legislation would prohibit slaughter and meat processing facilities from operating at extreme speeds during the pandemic.
Extreme speed slaughter puts animals, workers and food safety at risk under normal circumstances, speeding up production and putting even more pressure on workers to move animals quickly. Higher line speeds also make it more difficult for slaughterhouses to comply with humane handling laws and regulations, which puts animals at greater risk of abuse and even conscious slaughter. During the COVID-19 crisis – when it is particularly critical that workplaces consider social distancing – slaughterhouses and processing plants have failed miserably to protect workers from the rapid spread of the virus, which has caused the temporary closure of certain factories. Since the start of the pandemic, at least 517 meat packing plants have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 57,500 meat packing workers have tested positive for the virus.
“The failures of industrial agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed massive vulnerabilities in our food system, creating an urgent need for a transition to a more humane food system that values animals, people and the environment,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of ASPCA. . “Banning irresponsible slaughter speeds is an immediate step we can take to improve the protection of animals, workers and consumers, and we thank Senator Booker and Representatives DeLauro and Thompson for their leadership on the Safe Line Speeds during COVID-19 Act. “
“Since the onset of the pandemic, outbreaks of COVID-19 have increased in meat packing plants across the country, where the majority of workers are from immigrant communities and communities of color, resulting in dozens of thousands of COVID-19 infections among meat packing workers and tragically at least 284 dead, ”Senator Booker said. “The situation only worsened last year when the Trump administration approved more than 20 requests for meat-packing plants to exceed regulatory limits on line speeds despite the safety risks posed to operators. workers and consumers. The Biden administration took an important first step by removing the rule proposed by the previous administration to increase line speeds in poultry plants, but it is critically important that we continue to prioritize the safety of workers from frontline and consumer versus profits of large multinational meat packers. “
“Last week the Labor-HHS subcommittee that I chair heard testimony on the safety of meat packaging workers that revealed that meat packers were looking for faster line speeds to protect their meat. results at the tragic expense of workers, ”said Representative DeLauro. “The ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at meat processing plants over the past year have raised serious questions about the security conditions inside these plants. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these workers suffered injuries at a higher rate than comparable occupations. And now, faster line speeds prevent workers from practicing social distancing and complying with safety guidelines. This is why I am proud to join the leadership that Senator Booker and Representative Thompson have shown in introducing this legislation that will rule over these reckless line-speed overrides throughout the duration of the COVID public health emergency. -19. “
“Ensuring the safety of workers on slaughter lines is imperative,” said Representative Thompson. “Safety cannot be traded for high production. In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, we must take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of employees when working in meat and poultry establishments. “
The Safe Line Speed During COVID-19 Law would suspend existing line speed waivers and end the issuance of new waivers amid the pandemic while halting implementation and conversion to the New Pig Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), which removes all limits on the speeds of pig slaughter lines. This legislation would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of actions taken by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States Department of Labor (DOL), and the United States Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS) in response to the pandemic, while preventing the USDA from spending funds on actions or programs that would increase line speeds during this time.
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the United States, public awareness of the horrific realities of factory animal farming has grown, leading to increased support for needed reforms. According to a recent survey conducted by Lake Research Partners, 82 percent of respondents now believe the government should impose slower slaughter speeds to protect animals, workers or public health.
The Safe Line Speeds during COVID-19 law is supported by a diverse coalition of animal welfare, consumer safety and workers’ rights organizations. Recognizing that the fates of farm animals and humans are inextricably linked, the ASPCA recently led a coalition of 65 nonprofits, farmer groups and businesses in sending an urgent letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging the new administration to take action on three vital policies. areas covered by President Biden’s decree on tackling the climate crisis: stopping extreme speed slaughter, demanding better treatment of animals raised under the USDA Organic label, and ensuring fair and equitable treatment for farmers across the country.
The original co-sponsors of the legislation include Sense. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D -Ore .), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) And Patty Murray (Wash.) In the Senate, and the representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Jeff Van Drew (RN.J.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Bobby Rush ( D-Ill.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Tom Suozzi (DN.Y.), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jesús “Chuy” García (D -IL) , Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chellie Pingree (D- ME), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) in the House of Representatives.