Our Plan to Protect the Food Supply
America’s food supply chain is at risk. Huge corporate concentrated farms are suddenly sounding the alarm. The big threat to America and our health is the lack of safety, especially in massive animal product processing plants.
For years, workers have complained about terrible conditions. In plants throughout the country, workers get little or no time to take breaks, are pushed to wear diapers on the job, and don’t have proper safety equipment.
Missouri recently made the news for a few of these plants. Milan, Missouri, is home to a Smithfield plant. With COVID-19 spreading throughout the world and workers coming down with symptoms, an organized group of the plant’s workers went to court. They sued, saying that the plant was creating a public nuisance and threatening the food supply and the health of the general public. They asked a judge to immediately order Smithfield to abide by CDC safety guidelines.
In just a couple of days, the judge found in favor of the workers. That order is being implemented right now.
Our Attorney General was nowhere to be found in all of this. He has the power to protect our food supply. Apparently, he was too busy suing China.
Interestingly, Smithfield is a Chinese-owned company. Before Smithfield was sold, Missouri law prohibited foreign ownership of farmland. Our Attorney General — at the time a state senator — helped make sure that changed so Smithfield could keep Missouri farmland and sell out to a foreign corporation.
Now our appointed Attorney General’s predecessor — Senator Josh Hawley — is joining with Senator Tammy Baldwin in a bipartisan call for a federal investigation into these concentrated farms, including Smithfield. This agricultural concentration has hurt family farms throughout our country, especially in Missouri, and now it threatens our food supply and our safety.
Despite helping create the problem, our Attorney General refuses to help with the solution.
Our previous Attorneys General have gone after meat processing plants and agricultural operations that have threatened Missourians. Even our current Attorney General touts his prior actions in this area.
Our Attorney General doesn’t even have to look much further than the lawsuit he filed against China. In that same lawsuit, he accuses China of doing exactly what these unsafe meat processors are doing: Creating a public nuisance that jeopardizes the health of our people.
Instead of filing a fake lawsuit against China that will never benefit a soul in Missouri (other than our Attorney General and his political ambitions), he could have filed a real lawsuit against a foreign-owned company that is exploiting Missouri workers and resources. There’s plenty of work our Attorney General could be doing right now.
We need an Attorney General who works for us.
Here’s our plan to protect the food supply:
- Talk to workers. Listen to them. Make sure they are safe doing the work we need them to do.
- Take Smithfield and other companies threatening our food supply to court and ask for immediate injunctions to require workplace safety.
- Monitor these companies for compliance. If they fail to comply, take them back to court and ask for fines or for temporary shutdowns until they do comply.
- Work with our congressional delegations and the Governor to prevent violations of our antitrust laws. Too much concentration in this sector is a national security risk.
There’s a perfect roadmap for this already: Follow what the workers at Smithfield did and respect Missouri farmers. I got to speak with one of the organizers in Milan, Axel Fuentes, to offer whatever resources we could. Our Attorney General should have made that call.
On April 28, the President issued an executive order regarding meat processing plants. The order is focused on requiring plants to prioritize any federal contracts they have. It doesn’t require that plants stay open even if they are unsafe.
However, the order does open the door to giving large corporations even more power in our food supply system and more ways to thwart local health authorities.
As Missouri’s Attorney General, I’ll make sure our food supply is safe, no matter the resistance from big business or bureaucrats in D.C. If I have to, I’ll take anyone not here for We the People to court.
These dangerous practices have been allowed to go on because big companies are lining politicians’ pockets. We need an Attorney General who will stand up for us. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.
Elad Gross is a candidate for Missouri Attorney General and former Assistant Attorney General of Missouri. You can join our efforts to serve the public at EladGross.org.