Trump To Invoke Defense Production Act in Meat Processing; Schiller Conference Stresses Farm Economics Shift
April 28, 2020 (EIRNS)—Indications came out this afternoon that President Donald Trump will shortly invoke the National Defense Production Act (NDPA) in meat processing, to order packing plants to stay open, to lessen the back-up of livestock causing euthanizing animals; and lessen meat shortages. Details of worker protection, aid to farmers and other essentials have not been made known, as of this writing.
Already over 25% of hog processing is shut down in the U.S., which, along with beef and poultry outages, is headed for major meat shortages cross country, and ruination of farmers and ranchers on a mass scale, without intervention. Preceding today’s notice are a number of demands for action.
On April 27, a letter was sent to the White House Task Force by Iowa’s two U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, stating that,
“At current capacity levels, there are 700,000 pigs across the nation that cannot be processed each week, and must be humanely euthanized. Iowa produces one-third of the nation’s pork supply, and is home to one-fourth of the nation’s pork processing capacity. Simply put, Iowa pork producers cannot operate if they can’t send their pigs to market.”
The letter asked Vice President Mike Pence for the invocation of the NDPA in meat processing.
On April 26, the Schiller Institute international conference was addressed by Bob Baker as part of a crisis report panel comprised of six U.S. farmers and ranchers, similarly stressing the need for immediate emergency measures across all farm sectors in crisis in the U.S. and worldwide, and for the food supply. Baker also spoke of the necessity for putting in a new economics system for the longer-term stability and growth of agriculture and the food supply.
“First, emergency action. Intervene to save all agricultural capacity everywhere—herds, flocks, crops, farms, farm families on the land. Use income supports, parity-fair pricing, no foreclosures on farms or essential agri-businesses, and more. Plus, get the food to where it has to be. Commission and dedicate the tonnage of basic grains to the 55 countries completely dependent on outside supplies. Pre-stage it. Use the UN World Food Program proposal for ‘humanitarian hubs,’ and make it work.
“Secondly, for the longer term, start on the full measures for a new economic system for farm and factory production in every nation. No more ‘global outsourcing’ of food by the empire crowd”
of Wall Street and the City of London.
The first response of the Wall Street media to the news today that Trump would invoke the NDPA is their stated hope that he will lift any liability of the meat cartel firms for workers’ health and for price-gouging against farmers during the pandemic. The big names include Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS, National Beef/Marfrig, Smithfield/WH Group, and a few others. They dominate 85% of all meat processed, through a network of huge, mega-packing plants, that are now hot zones for COVID-19. There is already call for federal investigation of how these firms made $700 per head of beef in March, when the farmers were losing money.
On Sunday, April 26, John Tyson, Chairman of Tyson Foods, bought full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette—its headquarters is in the state—for a letter warning of meat shortages to come, and crooning over how much they care for their workers’ health, in “A Delicate Balance: Feeding the Nation and Keeping Our Employees Healthy.” In fact, the packing sector is infamous for low-pay, dangerous and crowded working conditions. In the Washington Post the ad was placed next to an exposé, headlined: “As They Rushed To Maintain U.S. Meat Supply, Big Processors Saw Plants Become COVID-19 Hot Spots, Worker Illnesses Spike.”