Some COVID-19 Facts
Timeline of Key Events
July 9th: A civil rights complaint is filed against JBS and Tyson Foods
Worker advocacy groups ( Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Rural Community Workers Alliance, the HEAL Food Alliance, Forward Latino, American Friends Service Committee — Iowa, and the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils) claim that the failure of JBS and Tyson to protect employees from the coronavirus amounts to racial discrimination, and thus violates title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The suit also states that the USDA should not give money to companies that engage in racial discrimination, including Tyson Foods and JBS.
"Tyson received $165 million in 2019 for federal Farm Bill nutrition programs and trade mitigation program contracts and $109 million in 2020 thus far. JBS and its subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride received $147 million in 2019 and almost $46 million in 2020 so far."
July 10th: The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act is introduced.
Reps. Marcia Fudge, Rosa DeLauro, and Bennie Thompson introduce legislation that would "prohibit meat processing and slaughter facilities from operating at dangerously high speeds that prevent social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic."
On October 1st, 2019, the USDA published a new regulation, Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection, which eliminated pork processing line speed limits.
During the pandemic, the USDA approved poultry speed waivers for 15 poultry plants , which permits these plants to increase speed lines.
May 21st: Small Packer Overtime Holiday Relief COVID-19 Act is Introduced
Note: this helps only meatpacking companies, and does nothing to help the vulnerable meatpacking employees, who continue to be exposed daily to the coronavirus in an environment that does not allow for social distancing.
May 15th: The Protecting Protein Production and Consumers Access Act is Introduced
Legislation was introduced on May 15th that would "provide liability protections for meat processing facilities...The Protecting Protein Production and Consumers Access Act would protect companies from lawsuits if they are not caused by criminal misconduct, gross negligence by the facility, reckless misconduct or conscious indifference to worker safety guidelines."
May 12th: HEROES Act is Introduced
On May 12th, "house Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes "emergency assistance" to support farmers forced to euthanize livestock — funding that is needed to ensure a large number of farms can remain in operation."
May 12th: USDA Farmers to Families Food Box is "Rolled Out"
April 28th: President Trump Signs an Executive Order On Meat and Poultry Processors
April 17th: The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is Announced
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program stems from the CARES Act.
The program will include $16 billion in payments to farmers and $3 billion in direct purchases of meat, dairy and specialty crops.
March 27th: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is Passed and Signed into Law
The CARES Act includes a $19 billion farmer's assistance/relief program.