WASHINGTON — On May 6, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the decision made by the District Court of Western Missouri which ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the primary jurisdiction over worker’s safety in meat processing plants across the country during the COVID-19 national emergency.
“This ruling affirms that OSHA is the primary entity that has authority over worker’s safety,” Perdue said. “Since President Trump issued his Executive Order … to keep these critical facilities operating, USDA has been working hand in hand with OSHA and the CDC to ensure meat processing facilities are abiding by federal guidelines. This ruling is directly in line with what the federal government has been calling for companies and communities to do in light of the President’s Executive Order. If we continue to work together, we can maintain the critical supply of meat and poultry for Americans while also protecting worker health and safety.”
On April 28, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order to keep meat and poultry processing facilities open during the COVID-19 national emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor have put out guidance for plants to implement to help ensure employee safety to reopen plants or to continue to operate those still open. Under the Executive Order and the authority of the Defense Production Act, USDA will work with meat processing to affirm they will operate in accordance with the CDC and OSHA guidance, and then work with state and local officials to ensure that these plants are allowed to operate to produce the meat protein that Americans need. USDA will continue to work with the CDC, OSHA, FDA, and state and local officials to ensure that facilities implementing this guidance to keep employees safe can continue operating.