ASPCA Statement on Executive Order Requiring Meat Plants to Continue Operating During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 30, 2020

NEW YORK – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) condemns the April 28th Executive Order invoking the Defense Production Act to require meat and poultry slaughter and processing plants to continue operating in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which could increase the vulnerability and suffering of animals and people alike.

Slaughterhouses across the country have become hot spots for the novel coronavirus, infecting thousands of workers and endangering rural communities that lack the resources to adequately respond to a surge in coronavirus cases. Instead of ensuring the health and safety of workers and the welfare of animals by mandating slower line speeds and providing appropriate sick leave and personal protective equipment, the USDA has allowed slaughterhouses to endanger both by continuing to issue line-speed waivers at an unprecedented rate.

We are appalled that the administration appears to be giving slaughterhouses free reign to prioritize unsafe and inhumane meat production at a time when we should be doubling down on critical regulations that protect animal welfare, workers, and food safety. If slaughterhouses are required to remain open and operating, the ASPCA urges the USDA to immediately suspend all operation of higher-speed slaughter systems and ensure that all slaughterhouses are, at the very minimum, meeting legal requirements for process controls and humane handling.