Chicken industry working to keep workers safe and feed people
We have to eat. As seemingly obvious as that may sound, amidst this pandemic, it bears added weight.
The COVID-19 outbreak has reminded us that our food system is “critical” and “essential.”
The chicken industry has a long history of adapting to difficult situations and meeting changing demand and we’re confident this will be no different.
Our top priorities right now are keeping our essential workers safe and keeping chicken stocked in the meat case. It is imperative that a proper balance is struck between ensuring a steady supply of food while maintaining the health and welfare of the people who work tirelessly to produce and deliver that food.
Companies also are enacting additional measures to keep workers safe, such as increased cleaning and sanitation of the plants, temperature checks before entering plants, social distancing measures, installing plastic dividers between work stations, issuing masks and/or face shields, hazard pay, paid leave for sick or at risk employees, among many others measures.
Unfortunately, there are some groups who seek to take advantage of this situation and incite fear and panic among our workforce that does little to help us accomplish our mission. Further, inconsistencies among the states and many localities in enforcing guidelines add to the confusion and can lead to unnecessary shutdowns. When considering human health and food supply issues, time is of the essence.
The fact is that chicken plant managers all over the country, wake up every morning and the first thing they ask themselves is, “Are we doing everything in our power to take real actions within our facilities to protect our employees from this virus, while still providing them a job with competitive pay and benefits?”
Those jobs are significant and farmers depend on these companies to provide a steady income to their families. Telling those farmers we are shutting down during this crisis would be a disaster for them.
During all of this, companies are providing free chicken for their employees so they don’t have to look for it in the store. Every weekend, you can find a company selling chicken at reduced prices right out of trucks in the local community.
While the efforts of our industry may not drive attention-getting headlines or make their way into sensationalized media stories, know that chicken producers are doing everything they can to keep our workers healthy and safe and keep India fed – in that order, one meal at a time.