Administration

Trump: food chain ‘almost working perfectly again’

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President Trump said that the food chain, which has been disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic, is nearly restored.

“The food chains are now back to almost working perfectly again,” Trump said at an event with farmers and ranchers at the White House on Tuesday.

“They had some interruptions, which you knew about, and we were able to take a very bold action, you saw that, and that action caused them to do what they had to do,” he added, referring to his executive order issued last month to keep meatpacking plants open during the pandemic. “They’re in good shape and very shortly they’ll be in absolutely perfect shape.”

Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants have forced several facilities to close, leading to nationwide meat shortages. Thousands of workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and several have died.

One Tyson Foods facility remains closed 13 days after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that all U.S. meatpacking plants would fully reopen in the next seven to 10 days. All the facilities by fellow leading food processing firms JBS and Smithfield are currently open.

Democrats have called on the administration to take additional steps to protect workers before reopening plants. Trump was asked about worker safety concerns on Tuesday.

“I have been very much involved with plants since this problem came up. They’ve done a lot in terms of shields and other things,” the president said. “They had a disproportionately high number of people that had the problem and that’s going away. The plants are very, very clean now.”

He added, “The meatpacking plants are coming online, many of them are online and fewer and fewer problems are being seen. If we didn’t act, we would have had a big problem.”

Tuesday’s event at the White House was to tout the Department of Agriculture’s $19 billion coronavirus aid program for farmers and ranchers launched last month. The program provides funding to help suppliers whose businesses have been impacted by the pandemic to distribute food boxes to food banks, community organizations and nonprofits.

Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump and Perdue toured Coastal Sunbelt Produce, a food service distributor located in Laurel, Md., to highlight the program last week.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall was also at the White House on Tuesday and noted the importance of the food supply chain.

“This pandemic’s made us realize one thing, we live in the land of plenty. But there’s a food chain that is just as important to us as our military is,” Duvall said. “We have to be able to feed our own people, we can’t afford to be fed by other countries. That makes us a national security issue and we know that you realize that.”

He added, “I think the American people unfortunately have had to go to the store and see some empty shelves, and we all now realize how important that chain, that food chain is, and the farmer is that very first link.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump food supply chain Ivanka Trump Meat packing industry Sonny Perdue

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