In this file:

 

·         Smithfield settles with feds for COVID-19 safety citations, agrees on health plan

… is changing its health procedures and training relating to infectious diseases… agreed to pay a $13,494 citation for its safety measures during the initial COVID-19 outbreak of over a thousand people at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant…

 

·         New emails shed light on meat CEOs’ lobbying in beginning of pandemic

The leaders of pork company Smithfield Foods and chicken producer Perdue Farms were in regular contact with government officials as the coronavirus began sweeping through their plants.

 

 

Smithfield settles with feds for COVID-19 safety citations, agrees on health plan

 

Sonya Swink, Sioux Falls Argus Leader (SD)

Nov 15, 2021

 

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. has settled with the federal government and has agreed to let outside parties develop its new infectious disease preparedness plan.

 

The largest pork processor in the country, Smithfield, is changing its health procedures and training relating to infectious diseases at all its meatpacking facilities nationwide with an outside party and will pay a penalty, according to a press release from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) on Nov. 15.

 

Smithfield agreed to pay a $13,494 citation for its safety measures during the initial COVID-19 outbreak of over a thousand people at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant, which made it at one point the largest hot spot in the nation during the pandemic's start.

 

Smithfield Foods is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based WH Group Limited, the largest pork company in the world. WH Group reported $6.67 billion in revenue in its most recent quarterly earnings statement.

 

The settlement follows a major exposure of COVID-19 brought to attention by media.

 

After initial reporting from Argus Leader newspaper brought widespread media attention to the swift rise in COVID-19 cases at its Sioux Falls plant, the government inspected. That inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration led OSHA to cite the company under the general duty clause...

 

more

https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/business-journal/2021/11/15/smithfield-cited-osha-14-k-agrees-new-department-of-labor-health-rules-covid-sioux-falls/8625167002/

 

 

New emails shed light on meat CEOs’ lobbying in beginning of pandemic

The leaders of pork company Smithfield Foods and chicken producer Perdue Farms were in regular contact with government officials as the coronavirus began sweeping through their plants.

 

By Madison McVan, Investigate Midwest

November 9, 2021

 

In April 2020, the coronavirus was tearing through Smithfield Foods' Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pork processing plant. As cases surged, the company's CEO lobbied federal officials to loosen workplace safety measures, newly released emails show.

 

The plant's outbreak infected more than 900 people and killed two in a six-week period in March and April 2020. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that most of the spread occurred among employees who worked within six feet of one another.

 

But that didn't stop Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan from trying to convince U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to weaken proposals recommending social distancing as a way to mitigate the virus's spread.

 

Information about the crucial early stages of the government's response to COVID-19 in meatpacking plants is still coming out, and Sullivan's emails are the latest look at the way meatpacking company executives pushed for weaker safety measures while their employees suffered the brunt of the pandemic.

 

“The big players in the industry – the biggest meat companies in the world in fact — used their political muscle with the previous Administration to assure that they could get away with failing to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 in their plants,” wrote Debbie Berkowitz, former OSHA chief of staff and senior policy advisor, in testimony to Congress last month.

 

Sullivan's emails are among the final batches of records the U.S. Department of Labor released to the consumer advocacy nonprofit Public Citizen after a months-long legal battle.

 

Other emails Public Citizen obtained have shown that language a powerful industry lobbying group submitted to the USDA appeared in an executive order that allowed many plants to remain open, and that former President Donald Trump's agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, personally lobbied to keep plants open, including the Sioux Falls one.

 

The month of the outbreak, a team of CDC inspectors visited the Sioux Falls plant and produced a list of recommendations for the control of disease spread within the plant.

 

The CDC sent a preliminary version of the report to stakeholders, including Sullivan and other Smithfield executives...

 

Perdue Farms questions state testing requirements ...

 

‘We do not intend to conduct an inspection’ ...  

 

more, including links, copies of emails

https://investigatemidwest.org/2021/11/09/new-emails-shed-light-on-meat-ceos-lobbying-in-beginning-of-pandemic/