United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday said at the White House that meatpacking plants would return to full capacity in a week to ten days.
“I’d say probably a week to 10 days where it’s fully back up,” Perdue said.
Reynolds and Perdue commented during a visit with President Donald Trump in the Oval office as fears of a meat shortage continue. Processing plants struggled to keep going amid coronavirus breakouts.
“I think we’ve turned the corner,” Perdue said. “We see these plants coming back online. Obviously, because of some infected employees, they won’t be full force for a while, but we think the stores will be — you’ll see more variety and more meat cases fully supplied.”
Reynolds thanked President Trump for acting quickly to use the Defense Production Act to declare the plants essential infrastructure. She said that Trump’s action prevented meat producers from euthanizing their stock that could not be sold.
“This is critical infrastructure. It’s an essential workforce,” she said. “And the team and the effort and the executive order, I think, has really maybe prevented what could have been a really serious situation.”
The president said he would ask the Justice Department to look into whether meat providers were boosting prices to benefit financially from meat shortages while some meat producers could not even sell their animals.
“I’ll ask the Justice Department to look into it. Okay?” Trump said. “I will ask them to take a very serious look into it, because it shouldn’t be happening that way. And we want to protect our farmers.”
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said that resources would be surged to the plants to help protect the workers and put critical infrastructure in place.
“In most of these meat-processing plants, we end up testing everyone in the facility,” Pence said. “And the people that are healthy are able to return with new countermeasures and new protection, new face masks or gloves, as the case may be.”
When asked about reports of a meat shortage at Wendy’s, Trump replied that he would call the CEO.
“I’m going to call Nelson Peltz,” he said. “They’re going to be okay. They’ll be all right.”