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USDA extends line speed trial, legislators want permanent solution

The USDA has announced it will extend its trial program, allowing six pork processing facilities to operate at increased line speeds.

Nebraska Congressman Mike Flood says the trial has provided valuable insight to the pork industry. “That’s shown increased line speeds don’t degrade workforce safety,” he says.

A third-party team of worker safety experts recommended the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service extend the Time-Limited Trials of the USDA’s New Swine Slaughter Inspection Service for up to 90 days to gather additional data that will be used to evaluate the impact of increased line speed on workers.

Flood who represents Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, where two of the facilities are located, tells Brownfield pork processors need to operate at full capacity. “I think we need to keep going,” he says. “We need to keep these trials in place and get the results that I think will make the case that worker safety is not degraded.

Flood says increasing line speeds helps the industry be more efficient. “A full-capacity plant means more producers, more pigs, and more pork,” he says.

Six facilities have been allowed to operate at an increased line speed while collecting and submitting data to evaluate the impact of increased line speed on workers.

This is the second time the USDA has extended the trial.  Flood, along with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Representative Brad Finstad, are pleased with the extension, but say pork processors and producers need more certainty.

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