In this file:
· U.S. pork processor seeks to delay court decision limiting slaughter speeds
· Is UFCW v. USDA the end or just the beginning of the great line speed debate?
· Pork line speed limits will return, court orders
U.S. pork processor seeks to delay court decision limiting slaughter speeds
By Tom Polansek, Reuters
May 3, 2021
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. pork processor Seaboard Foods wants to pursue a 10-1/2-month delay to a federal court decision that would force it to slow the speed of hog slaughtering at a massive Oklahoma pork plant, according to court documents.
The second-biggest U.S. pig producer seeks to intervene in the line speed case after a federal judge ruled against a Trump administration policy allowing pork plants to run slaughter line speeds as fast as they want, as long as they prevent fecal contamination and minimize bacteria.
As the first U.S. pork company to invest in machinery to run line speeds faster under the rule, Seaboard stands to lose from the decision. The Biden administration has sought to emphasize worker safety and is not expected to challenge the court.
Seaboard sped up its Guymon, Oklahoma, facility last year. Workers told Reuters the faster line speeds increased injuries at the plant.
A lawsuit brought against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union had challenged the 2019 rule over concerns about worker safety.
A judge in U.S. District Court in Minnesota...
Is UFCW v. USDA the end or just the beginning of the great line speed debate?
By Dan Flynn, Food Safety News by Marler Clark
May 4, 2021
Seaboard Foods wants to intervene in UFCW v. USDA “to move to stay the effect of the Court’s forthcoming judgment by 10.5 months as to Seaboard, and for the purpose of perfecting an appeal” with a stay pending appeal if necessary.
A federal court in Minnesota in March ruled that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) hadn’t fully assessed how faster line speeds in pork plants affect employee safety. Shortly after the March 31 ruling, USDA notified pork processors that plants running faster than 1,106 hogs per hour should prepare to slow down.
Seaboard says it is “profoundly affected” by the court’s line-speed ruling and is “grateful” for the court’s 90-day pre-judgment stay, but it says to save it from “certain and significant loss” the stay needed to be extended by at least another 10.5 months.
UFCW v. USDA involves several local unions and the federal government. Seaboard’s intervention would add private sector interests into the litigation. The Kansas-based Seaboard argues that its vertically integrated supply chain is processing the hog supply that was put into development with reliance on FSIS’s now-vacated line speed provisions.
The UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) affiliated local unions argue that worker safety is at risk from high line speeds, while processors say an efficient line speed is based on current staffing and other issues. And, line speed can make the difference between a 5- or 6-day work week.
Seaboard’s request to intervene in the lawsuit includes a history of the litigation:
Pork line speed limits will return, court orders
Megan Poinski, FoodDive
May 3, 2021
· Line speeds at U.S. pork plants will be slowing down after a federal judge ruled the U.S. Department of Agriculture's removal of processing speed limits did not adequately take worker safety into consideration. The ruling was filed on March 31, and USDA was given 90 days — until the end of June — to rework the regulations.
· USDA has notified pork processors that they should prepare to process no more than 1,106 hogs an hour as a result of this ruling — the processing speed limit prior to rule revamps in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported and USDA confirmed to Food Dive. No official changes to the rule have been published in the Federal Register or promoted on USDA's website.
· Faster line speeds for both pork and chicken processing lines were allowed under the Trump administration, but those rules have been rolled back. Days after his inauguration, President Joe Biden withdrew a proposed rule that would have allowed poultry line speeds to increase by 25%. The Biden administration also indicated it would be reviewing the rule allowing faster line speeds at pork plants.
Considering the Biden administration's stance on line speeds, it's not surprising that the Trump-era rule will no longer be in effect. Even as a candidate, Biden spoke out against faster processing rates for cattle, pigs and chickens. He cited the pandemic, social distancing protocols and health risks for workers as reasons to slow the lines down...
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