President Trump recently signed an executive order forcing meatpacking facilities open amid the COVID-19 coroanvirus pandemic Bloomberg reports by way of Zero Hedge.
As a crisis in processing unfolds across America’s meatpacking facilities, President Trump earlier this week invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure plants remain open. Last week, we noted how a “rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meatpacking plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought,” which led us to believe the next big issue was the breakdown of complex food supply chain networks. That is precisely what Tyson Foods warned in a full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday that said, the “food supply chain is breaking.” Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new report detailing virus infections and deaths at plants, the conclusion: thousands sick and nearly two dozen dead, reported Bloomberg.
The fast-spreading virus infected 4,900 workers and left 20 dead at 115 meatpacking plants across 19 states, according to CDC data from April 9-27.
As we have previously warned, at least 12 major plants have been forced to shut down after outbreaks were reported. The CDC said there had been many challenges in mitigating the spread at processing plants.
With President Trump’s executive order, meat processing plants will have to remain open. There are already some reports indicating that a plant or two could come back online in the first week of May. Keeping plants open during a worsening of the pandemic could be a recipe for disaster, as it appears this is the sacrifice that corporate America and the government are willing to make to prevent food shortages. Already, meat shortages are expected to hit grocery stores in the first half of May.
“The president’s executive order will only ensure that more workers get sick, jeopardizing lives, family income, communities, and, of course, the country’s food supply chain,” said Kim Cordova, leader of the local United Food and Commercial Workers International Union chapter, which represents 3,000 workers at the JBS SA beef plant in Greeley, Colorado. She said the president’s executive order is no solution to the current supply issues developing. (source)
It is true that meatpacking is an important industry. However, as I have said before, meat prices can go up, even significantly in the US, and people will not starve because the US is a major net food exporter. It is countries around the world that rely on the US for her meat by way of imports that will be most affected, the worst of which is China, since she depends on US pork and soy (even as she is trying to divest herself of both).
Now in fairness to Trump, he is not saying ‘you sick people with COVID-19, get back to work.’ The problem is that given the American corporate mentality- something which Trump knows as a businessman in the US -is that corporations will force the sick to go back to work citing this law and if they don’t they will threaten to fire them and will fire them and then cite their ‘legal’ reason for doing this.
What is a poor meatpacking worker to do? He does not want to lose his job, but he also has to get better. He will, like most poor Americans, continue to work even if he is sick and will hide the illness because he has to live and pay his bills lest he is forced to utter poverty and financial destruction. As a result of this, he will unintentionally spread illness to not only co-workers, but potentially into the meat supply. This is not out of malice, but the forced necessity of returning to work.
The result could be a massive spread of COVID-19 among not just workers, but in the physical meat supply itself. This would be an utter disaster, but what else is one expected to do if there is no way that he can expect to make a living?
The problem is not the worker. It is rather the short-sighted and highly selfish thinking patterns of corporate America that have destroyed not only the ability of the people to engage in commerce, but to make healthy decisions for the long-term good of all.
Trump is not “helping America” here. He is rather perpetuating the conditions for illness that if it does begin to spread will be blamed on him not just now, but in the future, just as how he is likely going to go down as the president whose actions resulted in the bankruptcy of the American Empire, for far from making America ‘great’ again, his actions are making her broke and sick.
Nobody likes the economic shutdown that has been forced to take place, but forced is absolutely right and appropriate because pandemics happen and the sure way to stop them is to wait until it passes and then resume normal life. This is a fact of history repeated across many cultures, and simply because the US insisted upon trying to rob her people of as much wealth as possible in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘business’, ‘free markets’, ‘capitalism’, and many other forms of rhetoric does not change facts of history or life.
It will be interesting to see how COVID-19 spreads as a result of this decision, and what the economic and political consequences will be. Likewise, it is also a good time to consider buying chickens from a local butcher who sources for local farms, and to in general consume less meat, for one does not want to risk accidentally contracting this virus because one wanted a chicken sandwich.