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Report: Trump officials, meat companies knew workers at risk

Tyson
Tyson Foods
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A congressional report finds meat processing companies, including Springdale-based Tyson Foods, worked closely with Trump Administration officials to keep facilities open in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new congressional report says that in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as COVID-19 spread rapidly among workers.

The report issued Thursday says meat companies pushed to keep their plants open even though they knew workers were at high risk.

The lobbying led to health and labor officials watering down recommendations for the industry and culminated in an executive order from President Donald Trump designating meat plants as critical infrastructure that needed to remain open.

According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, attorneys for Springdale-based Tyson Foods wrote an early version of the 2020 executive order issued by President Trump. Similar language to the order written by Tyson later appeared in the final executive order a week later.

The North American Meat Institute trade group says the report distorts the truth and ignores steps companies took to protect workers.