Senator Cory Booker + Representative Rosa DeLauro reintroduced identical bills into the House and Senate to protect slaughterhouse workers by reducing line speeds in the slaughterhouses, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Senator Booker originally introduced the bill in July 2020.

The Safe Line Speeds Act acts against a harmful action by the USDA in 2020 that allowed slaughterhouses to increase the speeds of slaughterhouses.

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Source: mercyforanimals/YouTube

According to the HSUS, the Safe Line Speeds in COVID–19 Act would:

  • Direct the Secretary of Agriculture to suspend existing waivers and not issue any new waivers related to line speeds at slaughterhouses during the pandemic;
  • Suspend the implementation of, and conversion to, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System;
  • Prevent the USDA from spending funds to develop, propose, finalize, issue, amend, or implement any policy, regulation, directive, constituent update, or any other agency program that would increase line speeds during the COVID-19 emergency period; and
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to issue a report after the COVID-19 emergency is over that reviews the actions taken by the USDA, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services in response to the pandemic to determine the actions’ effectiveness in protecting animal, food and worker safety.

“There is no reasonable excuse to increase slaughter line speeds while the country is still trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund in an emailed statement, “Upping slaughter line speeds puts workers and animals at increased risk of injury and makes it more difficult for workers to practice safe social distancing. The only beneficiary of lightning-fast slaughter lines is industrial agriculture’s bottom line. Senator Booker and Representative DeLauro and all the original cosponsors are right to shine a spotlight on this abject cruelty. We urge Congress to swiftly enact their critical legislation.”

Booker has been pushing for animal rights legislation in the Senate and introduced a bill in 2019 to close factory farms by 2040. “Since mid-March, outbreaks of COVID-19 have continued to surge in meatpacking plants across the country, infecting tens of thousands of workers and tragically killing more than 168. The majority of these workers are from immigrant communities and communities of color,” said Sen. Booker when he introduced the original bill in 2020. “The situation has only worsened since the USDA has approved nearly 20 requests from meatpacking plants to exceed regulatory limits on line speeds despite the risks posed to workers, consumers, and animal welfare. The USDA should be in the business of prioritizing worker and consumer safety over the profits of large multinational meatpacking corporations, not the other way around. The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act will rein in the USDA’s reckless oversight by limiting its ability to grant dangerous line speed waivers.”

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