Tyson chair says ‘food supply chain is breaking’ under COVID-19

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John Tyson, chairman of the board of Tyson Foods Inc., warned the nation Sunday that the “food supply chain is breaking” and “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” as a result of disrupted production at Tyson factories following outbreaks of COVID-19.

In a statement issued on the company’s website and published in several major daily newspaper, Tyson said his company, the second-largest meat processor in the world, is “being forced to shutter our doors” at plants across the U.S.

“Anxiety, doubt and the fear of the unknown are now our constant companions,” Tyson said.

The company employs more than 100,000 workers in 27 states. Like Smithfield, Cargill Inc, JBS USA and National Beef Packing Co., Tyson has shut down a number of U.S. plants in recent weeks after COVID-19 outbreaks in its factories.

“Millions of animals — chickens, pigs and cattle — will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities,” Tyson said. “In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue. Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation.”

Tyson said the company must balance its mission to produce protein with its care for its laborers’ health and safety.

“We have a responsibility to feed our country,” he said. “It is as essential as healthcare. This is a challenge that should not be ignored. Our plants must remain operational so that we can supply food to our families in America. This is a delicate balance because Tyson Foods places team member safety as our top priority.”

The chairman of the board said his company has taken steps to protect workers, including installing temperature scanners, providing face masks, erecting dividers between workers and relaxing the attendance policy for sick workers.

The company is waiving the waiting period to qualify for short-term disability so workers can immediately be paid if they get sick, Tyson said. Also waived are the co‑pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing, along with eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps, waiving co-pays for the use of telemedicine and relaxing refill limits for 30‑day prescriptions of maintenance medication.

“Tyson Foods is also paying approximately $60 million in ‘thank you’ bonuses to 116,000 frontline workers and Tyson truckers who support our operations every day,” Tyson said.

The Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry tested its 1,300-member workforce for COVID-19 Saturday. The test results are expected in a few days.

1 COMMENT

  1. Someone’s just worried about losing money. Hog prices are at an all-time low, so of course they want to keep these plants open. I do feel for the farmers as this is obviously not their fault. Now they are stuck with hard decisions to make. This isn’t right, and it’s because of Tyson. I work at the one mentioned here, and I can confirm that temp checks were conducted and hand sanitizer was in every hallway starting at the beginning of March. What they aren’t telling you is that work station dividers were only implemented in mid-April after the first positive case was discovered, a week before that, and they don’t even have them around the whole plant. The one picture that shows dividers is only in the section of the plant that has them. Temp sensors were also put in about one week ago. Face masks were made mandatory around the same time. We wouldn’t need to shut down if these things were put into place seven weeks ago, when everyone was warned of how contagious this could be. No one at corporate seems to know exactly what’s going on in their plants, or they do and just don’t care. We are all just another number that can easily be replaced. They did do mass testing, but I can tell you social distancing may have been encouraged but not enforced. There was a line with people only being a foot or closer together. Really wish I would’ve taken pictures. That $500 bonus is only for team members who were at work every day from the beginning of March until the end of June. After taxes the $500 is only gonna be about $250. Is that really worth my health? Not really. Would just be nice if these people would give a little respect to the ones who line their pockets. I have a possibility of getting fired for these comments if anyone up in corporate sees this, but the truth needs to be known.

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