Members of Congress Urge USDA to Protect Workers, Reject Increase in Poultry Processing Line Speeds

Washington, DC—Following is a statement by Debbie Berkowitz, Senior Fellow for Worker Safety and Health, National Employment Law Project:

“The National Employment Law Project commends Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and 12 other members of Congress for urging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to protect the health and welfare of our nation’s poultry workers by rejecting any request by the poultry industry to increase line speeds in poultry processing plants.

“In their letter to the secretary, the representatives made clear that ‘any attempt to increase line speeds . . . would have serious detrimental effects to food, worker, and animal safety.’ The industry is lobbying to raise line speeds to 175 birds per minute, or roughly three birds per second—up from the already breakneck pace of 140 birds per minute.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture has already studied the issue of potential line speed increases in poultry plants, heard from the American public over a two-year period about the serious safety concerns that would result, and adopted a rule in 2014 that rejected such an increase. Any move by the USDA to increase line speeds in poultry plants would be in complete disregard to the safety of the working men and women who endure already exceedingly harsh working conditions to feed their fellow Americans.”

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