At the end of last month, President Biden withdrew a rule pushed forward in the final days of the Trump Administration that put chickens, workers, and consumers at risk.
President Biden’s withdrawal of the faster line speeds within weeks of his first term sends a clear message that he can stand against industry pressures and stand up for the animals and workers that the industry exploits.
Just before former President Trump left office his Administration moved forward rules that would have allowed chicken processors to increase slaughter rates to 175 birds per minute, up from the previous maximum of 140. Meat processors had long lobbied the government to remove caps on processing speeds, even during the Obama Administration.
With Trump it looked as though they were finally getting their way.
High-speed processing increases risks to animals, workers, and food safety under normal circumstances.
Workers must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to manage the pace, are unable to take required breaks, and are at a greater risk of serious injury than most other industries in the US today. During the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are at even greater risk with the virus more rapidly transmitted among coworkers crowded together.
Animals are at higher risk of inhumane handling by rushed, exhausted workers and more likely to enter processing lines without being properly stunned. Inspectors cannot sufficiently monitor incoming animals or outgoing products for signs of disease that would require condemnation and be removed from the food supply.
Last year, World Animal Protection worked to build public support for congressional bills that required companies to operate at safer line speeds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 7,500 of our supporters sent nearly 22,000 messages to their legislators urging them to co-sponsor the bills. We joined sign-on letters and coalition efforts with groups advocating for worker rights, food safety, public health, and animal welfare to fight the increasing speeds.
Our collective voices were finally heard, and reason won out. President Biden’s withdrawal of the faster line speeds within weeks of his first term sends a clear message that he can stand against industry pressures and stand up for the animals and workers that the industry exploits.
We will continue to push for policies that protect animals, people, and the planet. Stay tuned for new and ongoing opportunities to take action!