When Trump goes from voter fraud to chicken bullying
The exit-in-chief angering animal rights activists is so on brand
Apparently news of 11.46 million people being infected with coronavirus (along with 249,670 dead and 49.7 cases per 100K) is too boring for outgoing President Donald Trump. Is it because he’s distracted by hunger? In addition to tweeting endlessly about unproven voter fraud in black neighborhoods, he’s got his sights set on making more chicken.
Either he was was incorrectly inspired by Politico’s headline, “Trump’s Chickens Come Home to Roost” or he just decided he needed a new enemy after Democrats, women (black women especially), innocent black men he takes out full-page ads on, imprisoning immigrants at the border and at least 100 other things. So chicken lives are his new bridge to burn.
According to Safety + Health magazine, a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule is being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget to allow some poultry plants to go from processing 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute. Under the New Poultry Inspection System, which pitched processing 151 birds (133 chickens, 17 turkeys and one multiple) in May 2020, states could now “allow certain young chicken establishments to slaughter birds more efficiently while continuing to ensure food safety and effective online carcass inspection.”
Interestingly, this pitch for processing more chickens is all happening while there is a public health alert for ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken and pork tamale products containing Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated diced tomatoes in puree. Why? The RTE chicken meals may be contaminated with hard plastic. Consumers are at risk of this choking hazard and/or damage to teeth or gums.
But why now? Why else would Trump be looking at chickens? One potential explanation (besides trying to get under the skin of vegetarians, vegan and PETA activists) is his problematic relationship with chicken farmers — and another back-handed slap at the Obama camp. In late 2016, ProPublica reports that the nation’s 25K chicken farmers were about fed up with waiting on the administration of former President Barack H. Obama to do something to help their farming operations.
At the end of the 44th president’s two-year term, top officials tightened regulations on meat processing companies, including beef, dairy, poultry and pork. Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride were of particular concern in reeling in the poultry industry. Contract terms and monetary costs were allegedly being changed for farmers, which greatly impacted their ability to rely on supplies of chicks and feed. Instead of making sure that meat processing companies kept their contracts with farmers consistent — and in agreed-upon terms — Trump’s camp has been ignoring the contract regulations that Obama’s team established in December 2016.
In fact, according to the post, the Trump administration dissolved the office that was assigned to police meat companies for (allegedly) cheating and defrauding farmers. Fines for breaking the rules dropped to $243,850 in 2018, less than 10 percent of what they were in 2013. Naturally, this move would also confirm why it makes sense that Mountaire Corp, the sixth-largest producer of chicken in the United States, is one of the top 10 contributors for Trump’s 2016 federal election campaign.
If passed, the uptick in chicken processing would certainly help the top five biggest chicken companies — Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Perdue Farms and Koch Foods. But this move could leave farmers scrambling again, considering they house and raise the birds, and provide equipment and fuel to keep chicken farms going. The plumper, the better.
As with any industry, once it becomes a race for quantity over quality, consumers get short-changed. If this regulation passes, it will be up to President-Elect Joe Biden to decide if he’s going to lean more toward his prior boss’s view on animal agriculture and crack down on meat processing companies (again) versus what the current president chose. But judging from the way Trump is treated by birds, he already wiped his hands of anything that can be put in a bucket or fly right at him. So he’s going out with no “clucks” to give.
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