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Coronavirus: Trump signs executive order forcing U.S. meat processors to stay open – Global News

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U.S. President Donald Trump took executive action Tuesday to order meat processing plants to stay open amid concerns over growing coronavirus cases and the impact on the nation’s food supply.

The order uses the Defence Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to try to prevent a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat on supermarket shelves. Unions fired back, saying the White House was jeopardizing lives and prioritizing cold cuts over workers’ health.

More than 20 meatpacking plants have closed temporarily under pressure from local authorities and their own workers because of the virus, including two of the nation’s largest, one in Iowa and one in South Dakota. Others have slowed production as workers have fallen ill or stayed home to avoid getting sick.


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Canada’s meat-and-potato problem: Coronavirus pandemic hits the food supply chain

“Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,” the order states.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 1.3 million food and retail workers, said Tuesday that 20 food-processing and meatpacking union workers in the U.S. have died of the virus. An estimated 6,500 are sick or have been exposed while working near someone who tested positive, the union says.

As a result, industry leaders have warned that consumers could see meat shortages in a matter of days. Tyson Foods Inc., one of the world’s largest food companies, ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times and other newspapers Sunday warning, “The food supply chain is breaking.”

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” it read.






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Coronavirus outbreak: COVID-19 pandemic takes toll on U.S. meat producers


Coronavirus outbreak: COVID-19 pandemic takes toll on U.S. meat producers

Tyson suspended operations at its pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa after a slew of infections, and Smithfield Foods halted production at its plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after an outbreak infected 853 workers there.

The 15 largest pork-packing plants account for 60 per cent of all pork processed in the U.S., and the country has already seen a 25 per cent reduction in pork slaughter capacity, according to UFCW.

A senior White House official said the administration was trying to prevent a situation in which a “vast majority” of the nation’s meat processing plants might have temporarily closed operations, reducing the availability of meat in supermarkets by as much as 80 per cent.

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COVID-19 pandemic: Canadian meat and potato industry in crisis


COVID-19 pandemic: Canadian meat and potato industry in crisis

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order before its release, said the White House was also working with the Labor Department to provide enhanced safety guidance for meatpacking workers. That will include trying to minimize the risk to workers who may be prone to serious complications from the virus, including strongly recommending those over the age of 65 and with preexisting conditions stay home.

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The order, which was developed in consultation with industry leaders including Tyson and Smithfield, is designed, in part, to provide companies with additional liability protections in case workers get sick.

Trump on Tuesday said the order would address what he described as a “legal roadblock.” It will “solve any liability problems where they had certain liability problems and we’ll be in very good shape.”


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But UFCW International President Marc Perrone said that more must be done to protect the safety of workers.

“Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers,” he said in a statement, urging the administration “to immediately enact clear and enforceable safety standards” and compel companies to provide protective equipment, make daily testing available to workers, and enforce physical distancing, among other measures.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said the administration should have acted earlier to put safety measures in place.

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“We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products,” he said.


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And Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, which represents 3,000 workers at the JBS meat processing plant in Greeley, Colorado, said the order “will only ensure that more workers get sick, jeopardizing lives, family’s income, communities, and of course, the country’s food supply chain.”

The administration is working with companies to help them secure protective equipment, like face shields and masks, and ramp up testing, the official said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have issued extensive guidelines on steps companies and workers should take.

Protecting workers can be especially challenging at plants that typically employ thousands of people who often work side-by-side carving meat, making social distancing all but impossible. Some companies have been working to reduce infections by checking workers’ temperatures, staggering breaks and altering start times. Owners said they have also done more to clean plants and added plastic shields between workstations.






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Coronavirus: What closures and restrictions on Canada’s 2 largest meat packing plants means for the cattle industry


Coronavirus: What closures and restrictions on Canada’s 2 largest meat packing plants means for the cattle industry

When outbreaks have happened, local public health agencies have pushed in some cases for temporary closures so they can limit wider outbreaks in communities and conduct mass testing to determine who is carrying the virus. Some plants have also briefly closed for deep cleaning and to install new safety measures.

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Yet concerns about working conditions persist and have led some to walk off the job. In central Minnesota, some workers at the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant walked out Monday night to protest the company’s record on worker safety.

Mohamed Goni, an organizer with Greater Minnesota Worker Center, said workers have complained the company is not sharing information about sick colleagues, has not implemented social distancing on the line, and that workers who were sick returned after just two or three days, and some workers who developed symptoms were not allowed to leave when they asked to go home.






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Multiple Canadian meat processing facilities report COVID-19 outbreaks


Multiple Canadian meat processing facilities report COVID-19 outbreaks

“The company refused, saying there would be a shortage of workers,” Goni said, adding that 80 per cent to 85 per cent of the plant’s workers are Somali.

“They have other family members living with them — elderly, children, people with underlying conditions. So if one of them brings that to their homes, it’s going to be more worse and a more serious problem,” Goni said.

Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA and Pilgrim’s, said in an email that employees are never forced to work or punished for an absence due to health reasons.

“We will endeavour to keep our facilities open to help feed the nation, but we will not operate a facility if we do not believe it is safe. The health and safety of our team members remains our number one priority,” Bruett said.

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READ MORE:
Trump leaves trail of unmet promises as country grapples with coronavirus outbreak

In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem has said she hopes to see a reopening plan for Smithfield this week, but sidestepped questions Tuesday about whether she agreed with Trump’s order, which might have prevented the Sioux Falls plant from shutting down if it had been in place earlier.

“We need to keep (plants) running, but we also need to protect people,” Noem said.

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Associated Press writers Ryan J. Foley in Iowa City, Iowa; Amy Forliti in Minneapolis; and Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month – World News – Castanet.net

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OPEC and allied nations agreed Saturday to extend a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day through the end of July, hoping to encourage stability in energy markets hard hit by the coronavirus-induced global economic crisis.

Ministers of the cartel and outside nations led by Russia met via video conference to adopt the measure, aimed at cutting the excess production depressing prices as global aviation remains largely grounded due to the pandemic. The curbed output represents some 10% of the world’s overall supply.

But danger still lurks for the market, even as a number of nations ease virus-related lockdowns, and enforcing compliance remains thorny.

Algerian Oil Minister Mohamed Arkab, the current OPEC president, warned meeting attendees that the global oil inventory would soar to 1.5 billion barrels by the mid-point of this year.

“Despite the progress to date, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” Arkab said. “The challenges we face remain daunting.”

That was a message echoed by Saudi Oil Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman, who acknowledged “we all have made sacrifices to make it where we are today.” He said he remained shocked by the day in April when U.S. oil futures plunged below zero.

“There are encouraging signs we are over the worst,” he said.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak similarly called April “the worst month in history” for the global oil market.

The decision came in a unanimous vote, Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei of the United Arab Emirates wrote on Twitter. He called it “a courageous decision.”

But it is only a one-month extension of a production cut that was deep enough “to keep prices from going so low that it creates global financial risk but not enough to make prices very high, which would be a burden to consumers in a recessionary time,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations.

“There is so much uncertainty that I think they took a conservative approach,” she said. “You don’t know how much production is going to come back on. You don’t know what’s going to happen with demand. You don’t know if there’s going to be a second (pandemic) wave.”

Jaffe said improved oil demand in China and Asia and a gradual stabilization of demand in the United States and to some extent Europe, where there’s some cautious economic reopening, were encouraging for producers.

OPEC has 13 member states and is largely dominated by oil-rich Saudi Arabia. The additional countries involved part in the so-called OPEC Plus accord have been led by Russia, with Mexico under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador playing a considerable role at the last minute in the initial agreement.

Crude oil prices have been gaining in recent days, in part on hopes OPEC would continue the cut. International benchmark Brent crude traded Saturday at over $42 a barrel. Brent had crashed below $20 a barrel in April.

Earlier this year, when demand was down, Saudi Arabia was flooding the market with crude oil, helping to send prices down to record lows. That prompted the U.S. government in April to take the unusual step of getting involved in OPEC’s negotiations, pressuring members of the cartel to agree to cuts to help end the oil price free-fall.

At the time, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would help take on some of the cuts that Mexico was unwilling to make. And perhaps more importantly, a group of U.S. senators upset over the impact on U.S. shale production said at the time that they had drafted legislation which would remove American forces, including Patriot Missile batteries, from Saudi Arabia.

Under a deal reached in April, OPEC and allied countries were to cut nearly 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021.

In a rambling Rose Garden speech on Friday, Trump took credit for the April deal. “People said that wasn’t possible but we got Saudi Arabia, Russia and others to cut back substantially,” he said. “We appreciate that very much.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette tweeted his applause Saturday for the extension, which he said comes “at a pivotal time as oil demand continues to recover and economies reopen around the world.”

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HSBC warns it could face reprisals in China if UK bans Huawei equipment: Telegraph – Investing.com

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© Reuters. HSBC’s building in Canary Wharf is seen behind a City of London sign outside Billingsgate Market in London

(Reuters) – HSBC Holdings Plc (L:) Chairman Mark Tucker has warned Britain against a ban on networking equipment made by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, claiming the bank could face reprisals in China, the Telegraph reported on Saturday.

Tucker made the claim in private representations to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s advisers, the newspaper reported https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/06/06/hsbc-warns-downing-street-chinese-reprisals-huawei, citing industry and political sources.

Britain designated Huawei a “high-risk vendor” in January, capping its 5G involvement at 35% and excluding it from the data-heavy core of the network. It is looking at the possibility of phasing Huawei out of its 5G network completely by 2023, according to officials.

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HSBC warns it could face reprisals in China if UK bans Huawei equipment: Telegraph – Reuters

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FILE PHOTO: HSBC’s building in Canary Wharf is seen behind a City of London sign outside Billingsgate Market in London, Britain, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) – HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L) Chairman Mark Tucker has warned Britain against a ban on networking equipment made by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, claiming the bank could face reprisals in China, the Telegraph reported on Saturday.

Tucker made the claim in private representations to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s advisers, the newspaper reported here citing industry and political sources.

Britain designated Huawei a “high-risk vendor” in January, capping its 5G involvement at 35% and excluding it from the data-heavy core of the network. It is looking at the possibility of phasing Huawei out of its 5G network completely by 2023, according to officials.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler

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