President Trump avoided a catastrophe on Tuesday, the near total shutdown of critical food supplies. He’s expected to sign an executive order that classifies meat packaging plants as “critical infrastructure.”
Protecting food supplies by relieving ‘liability’
During an Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the president ordered America’s meat producers to keep production of meat supplies moving. “We’re going to sign an executive order today. I believe, and that’ll solve any liability problems,” Trump said on Tuesday.
The five-page executive order, under the Defense Production Act, isn’t a heavy handed attempt to force the companies to do anything they don’t want to do. It’s purpose is to assure the owners of these “essential” businesses that they won’t have to worry about getting sued by their workers.
Officials and lawmakers agree that these businesses “need liability protection from lawsuits employees might file if they become sick.” That does not mean that precautions won’t be taken. America needs to keep the food supplies moving because the entire chain from field to table requires very tight “just in time” transportation and distribution.
On the verge of shutting down 80 percent
Tyson Foods announced Monday that they were on the verge of closing 80 percent of their operations. Similar factories processing pork and beef have likewise been shutting down as the coronavirus tears through the workforce. By declaring these plants “as a part of critical infrastructure in the US,” they are provided with safeguards they normally don’t enjoy.
The administration is working closely with the employers to issue “guidance about which employees who work at these meat processing facilities should remain home.” Vulnerable workers will be allowed to remain in isolation.
President Trump assures the public that there are plenty of food supplies to go around. “We’re working with Tyson, which is one of the big companies in that world,” the president said. “And we always work with the farmers. There’s plenty of supply.”