By Executive Order (“EO”) dated April 28, 2020, President Trump invoked the authority of the Defense Production Act (“DPA”) to direct that meat and poultry processing facilities continue operations notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic. As explained in our previous Legal Updates,1 the DPA gives the President “an array of authorities to shape national defense preparedness programs and to take steps to maintain and enhance the domestic industrial base.” 50 U.S.C. § 4502(a)(4).

The Executive Order

The EO makes the determination required by DPA section 101(b) (50 U.S.C. § 4511 (b)) to activate the President’s powers under the statute to intervene in the commercial meat and poultry market. The EO makes the policy finding that it is important to national defense that processors of beef, pork, and poultry carry on operations and fulfillment of orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for the American people. The EO notes that recent outbreaks of COVID-19 have led to reduction in production capacity at such facilities. It also notes that some state actions have led to the complete closure of large processing facilities. According to the EO, those actions may differ from, or be inconsistent with, recent joint guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) regarding operation of meat and poultry facilities.

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