President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meatpacking plants in the U.S. open during the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday’s move comes after more than a dozen beef, pork and poultry plants across the country shut down either temporarily or indefinitely in the past few weeks.
The president’s executive order to keep the plants open notes that some of the plant closures “may be inconsistent with” worker safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and that “unnecessary” plant closures can have a big impact on the meat supply chain.
What constitutes a “necessary” closure isn’t universally agreed upon. The worker safety guidelines the president pointed to were only issued on Sunday, well after a lot of plants announced temporary or indefinite closures in response to coronavirus outbreaks among workers.