Covid-19 Relief Packages Leave Food and Farm Workers Unprotected

WASHINGTON – The following is a statement from Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, on the Covid-19 relief packages released today by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) and by a bipartisan group of senators:

Both of these proposals would grant food and farm employers relief from liability while failing to direct OSHA to issue mandatory safety standards. This would be tantamount to saying: “Go ahead and kill your workers.”

If food and farm companies want to avoid liability, they should protect their workers, not beg Congress for liability waivers, and use the money they’d save paying their high-priced lobbyists to offset the costs of personal protective equipment.

According to data collected by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, at least 1,222 meatpacking and food-processing plants (551 meatpacking and 671 food processing) and 267 farms and production facilities have had confirmed cases of Covid-19. At least 74,261 workers (49,479 meatpacking workers, 13,568 food-processing workers and 11,214 farmworkers) have tested positive for Covid-19, and at least 339 workers (254 meatpacking workers, 46 food-processing workers and 39 farmworkers) have died.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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