Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. meatpacking workers process a pig carcass. (Photo: Government Accountability Office)

Workers process pig carcasses at a U.S. meatpacking plant. (Photo: Government Accountability Office)

Hog Futures Soar After Biden Moves to Speed Up Slaughter-Lines, Ignoring Safety Fears

The USDA's new pilot program "continues to put industry profits over protecting the safety of our food supply," said one attorney.

Kenny Stancil

The Biden administration's Wednesday announcement allowing several pork processing plants to speed up production was well-received by livestock traders—pleased to see an immediate spike in hog futures—but progressive critics warned that the move will make slaughterhouses, and the nation's food supply, more dangerous.

"The Biden administration is caving to industry pressure."

After the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a pilot program that permits nine pork processing plants to apply to accelerate slaughter-line speeds, lean hog futures rose on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Reuters reported Wednesday.

"The announcement eased concerns that slower processing speeds had slowed meatpackers' demand for pigs to slaughter," the news outlet noted, citing traders.

Earlier this year, a federal judge invalidated part of the Trump administration's New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), a 2019 rule that removed slaughter-line speed limits and weakened inspection procedures, which economic justice and food safety advocates warned would have devastating consequences for plant workers and public health.

The court found that "the Trump administration acted unlawfully in 2019 when it eliminated limits on pork plant line speeds without considering the increased risk of injury to workers," the Washington Post reported. The ruling did not, however, affect the part of NSIS that "gave pork plant owners greater control over their facilities by allowing them to replace some USDA inspectors on slaughter-lines with their own employees."

The White House said in May that it would comply with the court order, but with its new USDA pilot program for faster processing speeds, "the Biden administration is caving to industry pressure," Food & Water Watch senior staff attorney Zach Corrigan said in a Wednesday statement.

"We already know that industry-friendly hog inspection rules create significantly more food safety problems than rules that require strong federal oversight," said Corrigan.

In addition to causing higher rates of fecal and digestive matter contamination, forcing slaughterhouse employees—who have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic—to cut hogs at a faster pace has resulted in a surge in worker injuries.

The Biden administration "was right to accept a court decision throwing out the awful Trump administration rules that allowed slaughterhouses to ramp up their slaughter-line speeds," said Corrigan. "Unfortunately, they are now reversing course on this with a pilot program that continues to put industry profits over protecting the safety of our food supply."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·


Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·


Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo