President Donald Trump plans to order meat-processing plants to remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure as the nation confronts growing disruptions to the food supply, a person familiar with the matter said.
Trump plans to use the Defense Production Act to order the companies to stay open, and the government will provide additional protective gear for employees as well as guidance, according to the person.
Trump signaled the executive action at the White House on Tuesday, saying he planned to sign an order aimed at Tyson Foods Inc.’s liability, which had become “a road block” for the company. He didn’t elaborate.
The order, though, will not be limited to Tyson, the person said. It will affect all processing plants supplying beef, chicken, eggs and pork.
The White House decided to make the move amid estimates that as much as 80% of the U.S. production capacity could shut down.
Illnesses in the meat-processing industry and shifts in demand as restaurants have closed have disrupted the food supply chain in recent weeks. Dairy farmers are dumping milk that can’t be sold to processors, broiler operations have been breaking eggs to reduce supplies and some fruit and vegetables are rotting in fields amid labor and distribution disruptions.
Many low-income Americans, meanwhile, have been waiting in long lines at food banks, which have reported shortages.
Asked about the supply of food to the country, Trump said: “There’s plenty of supply.”
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