There is going to be a meat shortage in the U.S.: Stew Leonard's CEO

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Published at : 07 Dec 2020
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Stew Leonard Jr., the CEO of the Northeast supermarket chain Stew Leonard's, discusses President Trump's order for meat processing plants to stay open, even despite concerns about coronavirus cases in some of those facilities.

President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order meatpacking plants to remain open, classifying the plants as critical infrastructure as a way to combat the strain coronavirus is placing on the food supply chain.

The executive order, released Tuesday evening, said the closure of just one large beef-processing plant could result in 10 million fewer individual servings of beef in a day.

“Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,” the order said.

A senior administration official said the U.S. government would also provide guidance to minimize risk to workers who are especially vulnerable to the virus, such as encouraging older workers and those with other chronic health issues to stay home.

Trump mentioned the order during a meeting Tuesday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, where he said his administration was working with Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest meat processor.

Signing the order, he said, ”... will solve any liability problems,” adding, “And we always work with the farmers. There’s plenty of supply.”

The order is expected to address two issues: ordering critical food supply businesses to stay open under the Defense Production Act, and providing liability protections for employers if workers get sick, NBC News reported, citing a senior administration official.

The White House actions come in response to alarm bells raised by major meat processors in recent weeks, who warned that the United States will face a consumer shortage of meat on grocery store shelves unless the plants are allowed to reopen.

Tyson placed a full-page ad in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Sunday addressing the plant closures.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” Tyson Chairman John Tyson wrote.

Tyson said that a limited supply of its products will be available in grocery stores until facilities can be reopened. These temporary closures will also mean millions of livestock will be slaughtered because farmers will not be able to sell their pigs, cows and chickens to buyers who can process the meat.

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