ProVeg US asks President Trump not to keep meat industry afloat
April 30, 2020
ProVeg US urges Trump to reconsider decision declaring meat processing plants ‘critical infrastructure’; we want to remind the administration that factory farms are breeding grounds for future pandemics.
ProVeg’s comments come after President Trump announced yesterday that he would be signing an executive order under the Defense Production Act to oblige meat processing plants to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite hundreds of employees at these facilities already testing positive for the virus. The order classifies meat processing plants as “critical infrastructure” to avoid a shortage of chicken, pork, and other types of meat in supermarkets.
Meat processing plants across the country have been closing or slowing down production to avoid exposing their employees and the public to coronavirus. However, now this executive order will put the lives of these workers at risk. While the administration has said they will help secure protective equipment, ensuring the safety of thousands who often work shoulder-to-shoulder is near impossible. In addition, processing plant workers are often low-income and studies find that low-income individuals are often associated with higher rates of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, which are a major risk factor making the virus deadlier for those who become infected.
ProVeg urged Congress with an open letter to prevent factory farms from receiving these COVID-19 relief and stimulus funds.
Michael Webermann, US Director of ProVeg International, said: “In addition to our concern for the factory workers, there is a wider issue at play here regarding long-term public health and the risk of future pandemics, which continues to escalate.
“The link between factory farming and increasing pandemic risk is well established scientifically. We don’t yet know the full story on the emergence of COVID-19. But we know with certainty that swine flu and avian flu evolved on chicken and pig factory farms, which are breeding grounds for future pandemics.”
Factory farming supplies 99% of the meat eaten in the US. It’s a method of farming designed to maximize the amount of meat, milk, and eggs obtained from each animal. This desire to increase productivity leads to animals in factory farms being packed together tightly and living in severe, unsanitary conditions.
Michael continued, “Propping up a risky industry and implementing dangerous orders forcing them to stay open is truly the last solution we need at this time. We have alternative food supply chains to explore that don’t carry this same risk: plant-based products like veggie meats, almond and oat milks, and eventually, cell-cultivated products that produce real meat without raising animals. In order to ensure Americans have enough food to eat without creating future global crises, leaders should be shifting toward food systems that use far fewer animals.”