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Hartzler Introduces Meat Processing Facility Liability Protection Bill

May 15, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) introduced H.R. 6883, the Protecting Protein Production and Consumer Access Act. The legislation expands liability coverage for meat processing facilities mandated to reopen after President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to protect America’s food supply and consumers’ access to American-raised meat.
My bill, the Protecting Protein Production and Consumers Access Act, helps support the stability and long-term viability of our farmers and ranchers, protects the jobs of hardworking individuals who provide these critical services and rely on their jobs in these plants for their paychecks, and protects every American’s access to safe and affordable beef, pork, and poultry products,” Hartzler said.
Due to COVID-19 impacts, many meatpacking plants have been forced to cease operations or run at decreased capacity throughout the country. These disruptions are causing consumers to see less beef, pork, and poultry products in grocery stores. At the same time, producers are struggling to find a market for their livestock. These effects can quickly devastate the meat and poultry industry that generates over five percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and directly supports over 6,000 jobs alone in Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District.
“Removing even a portion of our nation’s processing capacity in one community has drastic impacts on towns and cities beyond that facility. If our producers and processors are going to successfully weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic, then meat processing facilities must have the ability to safely fulfill the federal government’s reopening mandate without fear of frivolous litigation that will cripple their operations.

“It is devastating to consider pork producers are having to depopulate their herds while families are going hungry because grocery shelves are empty. We must get these plants reopened safely so workers are confident in their workplace security. Equally important is ensuring the plants are confident they won’t be penalized with a frivolous lawsuit for doing the right thing in taking steps to protect their workers and reopening in compliance with the Defense Production Act mandate. My bill, The Protecting Protein Production and Consumer Access Act, helps them achieve both by still requiring plants to follow safety provisions and guidelines from local, state, and federal-level health and labor agencies, but also ensuring good faith efforts to protect workers’ paychecks and feed America’s families are not punished,” Hartzler continued.

In order to safely manage the reopening of these essential meat processing facilities, The Protecting Protein Production and Consumer Access Act ensures that meat processing facilities are protected from frivolous lawsuits only if the claims are not caused by:

  • An act constituting willful or criminal misconduct,
  • Gross negligence by the meat processing facility,
  • Reckless misconduct,
  • Conscious flagrant indifference to worker safety guidelines

“I thank Ranking Member Mike Conaway (TX-11), Rep. David Rouzer (NC-07), Rep. Roger Marshall (KS-01), Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06), Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-01), Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01), Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-03), Rep. Trent Kelly (MS-01), Rep. Rick Allen (GA-12), and Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08) for joining me in this effort to ensure that our farmers and ranchers can continue to operate, that all the hardworking Americans throughout our country who depend on these facilities have their continued financial stability, and that Americans can count on a steady supply of meat. I urge all my colleagues to support these efforts. They will go a long way in ensuring our economy stabilized in the face of this COVID-19 pandemic Hartzler concluded.

A copy of the bill can be found here.