President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday evening, using the Defense Production Act (DPA) to order meat processing plants to stay open and designating them as critical infrastructure.
The order will apply to all meat processing plants in the U.S. in an effort to prevent further disruptions to the food supply. Trump signaled he would sign this order earlier on Tuesday following estimates that meat production capacity nationwide could be reduced by as much as 80 percent.
“It is important that processors of beef, pork, and poultry (“meat and poultry”) in the food supply chain continue operating and fulfilling orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans. However, outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers at some processing facilities have led to the reduction in some of those facilities’ production capacity,” the president wrote in the order.
He said that actions in the states have led to closures of processing plants but those closures threaten the supply chain. Trump’s decision comes after the chairman of Tyson Foods warned that the nation’s food supply was “breaking” as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.