The poultry industry really, really wants to process the chickens you eat at rates of more than 140 per minute. Under former President Obama, the USDA considered and then backed off of an increase to 175 chickens per minute going down the line being eviscerated and inspected. Under Donald Trump, the National Chicken Council hopes that the sky’s the limit, asking for plants to be allowed to operate “at any line speed” if they adopt a new inspection system.
The Obama-era cap is an “arbitrary” limit that is holding back the industry’s ability to compete in the global marketplace, the National Chicken Council stated in its petition.
Granting waivers would help the Trump administration achieve its goals of “reducing regulatory burdens on the industry,” the council said, adding that it would help poultry plants cut costs and expand production to meet rising demand.
Because what you really want to hear about the meat you’re eating is that cutting costs was the producer’s primary goal, and that the government went right along with that.
Do chicken eaters trust the safety of that new inspection system? The jury is out on that and under Trump we can be sure of never getting trustworthy data. But one thing is for damn sure: if line speeds increase, the workers who process chickens will lose limbs.
Poultry workers are almost twice as likely to suffer from serious injuries as workers in private industry, and more than six times as likely to have a work-related illness. Two poultry and meat processing plants, Tyson Foods and JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride, are among the 10 companies with the highest number of work-related amputations and hospitalizations, out of more than 14,000 companies reporting to the federal government, Berkowitz, a former Obama Labor Department official, discovered.
But what are the hands and arms of a heavily immigrant workforce when a bunch of big companies could profit? Nothing, in Trumpworld.
This blog was originally published at DailyKos on October 16, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at DailyKos.