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Tyson, Smithfield Wrote Trump Executive Order to Keep Slaughterhouses Open During Pandemic

Remember how those thieving meatpackers lied to us about meat shortages at the start of the coronavirus pandemic? Smithfield and other Big Meaters didn’t just use those lies to pressure the Trump White House to issue an executive order in April 2020 ordering wiener factories to stay open despite the risk of spreading covid-19; they helped write the order to allow them to keep cranking out sausage regardless of the mortal danger they knew their workers faced:

It’s been reported that the meatpacking industry wrote a draft version of President Donald Trump’s executive order, but the new Congressional investigation shows that Tyson Foods — mostly in collaboration with Smithfield Foods — authored the specific language that the industry pushed to federal officials. Similar language in Tyson’s draft would appear in the finalized executive order signed a week later.

…The report, compiled by the staff of the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and released Thursday, reveals that the country’s largest meat companies coordinated with each other — and with political appointees at the federal agency charged with their regulation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture — to keep meatpacking plants operating at maximum capacity while thousands of workers were infected in the COVID-19 pandemic’s early months.

Meatpacking industry leaders understood the threat coronavirus posed to their employees, emails show. But rather than enforcing safety measures, such as social distancing and masking, the companies instead asked the federal government to exclude them from public health measures meant to protect employees from illness and death [Madison McVan, “Tyson Foods Authored Draft Version of Trump’s 2020 Executive Order to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open During Covid-19 Pandemic, Emails Show,” Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, 2022.05.12].

The House Subcommittee reports that over 59,000 meatpacking workers were infected with coronavirus and at least 269 died. But rather than take more precautions to protect workers, Mark Kaminksy of Koch Foods said in a May 22, 2020, email that the meatpackers shouldn’t have to do anything more than take employees’ temperatures and send them home if they had fevers, and lobbyist Ashley Peterson of the National Chicken Council replied, “I agree with you Mark. Now to get rid of those pesky health departments!”

In a crisis, the Big Meat corporations don’t want to do their part to protect their workers and their communities from harm. They want to keep exploiting workers and shut down the public agencies that check their power and protect the public.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-05-13 08:25

    Murdering bastards. I hope they rot in hell.

  2. Dicta 2022-05-13 08:55

    Drain the swamp, eh?

  3. Tom 2022-05-13 09:06

    can we at least get a free hot dog?

  4. larry kurtz 2022-05-13 09:25

    My home state has gone from being America’s laughing stock to becoming a co-conspirator in hate crimes and ethnic cleansing? What a shocker.

  5. P. Aitch 2022-05-13 12:28

    In A Crisis?
    Many things have become clear during Covid.
    Topping the list is the worthlessness of Trump supporters.
    Foxhole material?
    Not a one of ’em would’ve lasted a day in the jungle war of Vietnam, without getting “fragged”.

  6. Mark Anderson 2022-05-13 16:03

    I really do hope there are lawyers working for the people who had to labor through this. Moreover, lawyers working for those who died. Their families should receive compensation and an apology at the very least.

  7. 96Tears 2022-05-13 16:21

    Mark – I assume small stipends were paid to survivors and workers in return for non-disclosure statements being signed. Standard practice with crooks in charge.

  8. leslie 2022-05-13 17:32

    NDA’s for Herbster’s former staff were in place while he was actively being Kristi’s father figure and conspiring to overthrow Biden’s election.

  9. Donald Pay 2022-05-14 14:14

    If China really runs Smithfield, they didn’t run it the way China ran their covid strategy at home. China had the same concerns as we did about keeping critical industries operating during the initial shutdowns. So in meatpacking, for example, they tested workers, then isolated those who tested negative. They provided free housing, albeit not the best accommodations, and lots of bonus pay for long hours and for being away from their families. They did not play nice with their meatpackers, They told them what and how they were going to keep workers safe. This is the difference between a government that is serious about worker health and food security, and one that is there primarily to provide socialist assistance to the wealthy. Further, China cut imports of US pork and meat products because US policy was not assuring a safe workforce. They didn’t want to take a chance on contaminated meat.

  10. O 2022-05-14 19:02

    In this discussion we are ignoring a key issue. Those meatpacking plants were providing an essential service: keeping money flowing into the pockets of wealthy business owners. Nothing, NOTHING can be allowed to interfere with that singular national goal.

    Even the coopting of the white christian nationalists for GOP purposes is to meet the end goal of keeping the profits flowing to the .1%. The vote on not defending the protections on Roe in the Senate mirrors the lower taxes votes by design. The theocracy is just a bonus to the oligarchs.

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