In the past two years the USDA has accelerated the slaughter of pigs and chickens to reckless speeds. These extremely fast slaughter lines are directly linked to rougher handling of animals, increased use of painful electric prodding—and even worse, more animals scalded in hot water while still fully conscious.
But the consequences don’t just extend to farmed animals: These faster speeds unnecessarily risk the health and safety of workers in slaughterhouses, who already experience one of the highest rates of occupational illness in the country. In recent months, as COVID-19 outbreaks have ripped through and shut down slaughterhouses across the country, the issue of line speeds and worker safety has once again been catapulted into the national dialogue.
According to a ground-breaking report released by the CDC earlier this month, an astounding 87% of COVID-19 cases found at slaughterhouses were Latinx, Black, and Asian workers. Slaughterhouses have propagated the deadly virus in communities already disproportionately infected at rates three times that of their white counterparts.
How has the factory farming industry responded to this crisis? By failing to implement appropriate worker protections (like the provision of personal protective equipment and mandated social distancing), publicly lamenting their shrinking profits, and lobbying for liability protection so that they remain unaccountable to their workers who fall gravely ill.
Line speeds must be immediately slowed down to reduce further hazard to farmed animals AND workers—and if the USDA isn’t willing to mandate that in the face of a pandemic, Congress must.
The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act recently introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives would prohibit dangerously fast line speeds, as well as instruct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the USDA’s effectiveness in ensuring animal, consumer, and worker safety throughout the COVID crisis.
Will you join us in asking Congress to pass this essential legislation by emailing your U.S. Representative with our quick and easy form? We have to get this done.