USDA OIG to audit USDA, meat plants on COVID-19 actions
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced last week that the Agriculture Department’s Office of the Inspector General has agreed to his request for an audit of USDA actions that may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in meat processing facilities and other agricultural processing facilities.
“Early in the pandemic, meat processing plants saw some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, harming a workforce predominantly comprised of immigrants, refugees, and people of color, and raising serious questions about any federal actions that may have contributed to the spread of the virus in these facilities,” said Bennet. “Hard-working Americans who are serving on the front lines during this crisis deserve answers. I’m glad the USDA inspector general is making it a priority to get to the bottom of this.”
Bennet said the USDA OIG investigation will address the following specific concerns he raised:
▪ USDA actions following the Executive Order on April 28, 2020, that invoked the Defense Production Act;
▪ USDA actions taken to communicate the federal government’s authority, standards, and expectations with State Departments of Health; and
▪ USDA actions taken to ensure health and safety of inspectors, and protocols in response to COVID-19 positive tests at meat processing facilities.
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