USDA won’t appeal line speed ruling
The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that it will not appeal a federal court ruling that found FSIS violated the Administrative Procedure Act when writing a final rule allowing an increase in line speeds in pork processing plants and ordered the impacted plants to adjust in 90 days.
On Wednesday, FSIS issued a “special alert” to its constituents that USDA would not appeal the ruling but would work with the companies to bring them into compliance.
FSIS said, “On March 31, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota vacated a portion of FSIS’ final rule establishing a voluntary ‘New Swine Slaughter Inspection System.’ The court found that FSIS violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it asked for comments on the impact of line speed increases on worker safety in the proposed rule but did not consider these comments in the final rule.”
“The court vacated the rule only insofar as it eliminated the maximum line speed cap for NSIS establishments. The other provisions of the final rule were not affected by the court’s decision.
“The court stayed the order for 90 days to give the agency and the impacted plants time to adjust. At this time, establishments operating under NSIS should prepare to revert to a maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour on June 30, 2021.
“The agency is committed to worker safety and ensuring a safe, reliable food supply. We will work with the establishments to comply with the court’s ruling and minimize disruptions to the supply chain.”
The National Pork Producers Council had urged USDA to appeal the ruling, while the United Food and Commercial Workers urged USDA to accept it.
NPPC told Farm Journal’s Pork magazine that it was “disappointed” in the ruling and would “continue to pursue all avenues to reverse a court decision that will lead to pork industry consolidation and increased packer market power.”
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