U.S. Senator Bennet Presses Pence For Update on PPE, Tests to Protect JBS Workers in Greeley During COVID-19 Pandemic

Senator Pushes For More Protective Health Measures For Meat, Food Processing Plants in Colorado to Safeguard Workers, Communities, and National Food Supply

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting an update regarding the need for more testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers at the JBS plant in Greeley, which has become a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) hotspot. In the letter, Bennet also pushed for protective health measures for workers at other Colorado-based meat and food processing plants in an effort to safeguard communities near these plants as well as the national food supply.

“I write to request an update on your April 10 commitment to provide tests, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other protective health measures to the JBS USA (JBS) plant in Greeley, Colorado and ask your assistance in procuring similar provisions for other meat and food processing plant employees in Colorado,” wrote Bennet. “As Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, it is critical to test employees, their families, and the surrounding community to protect Coloradans’ health and safeguard our nation’s food supply.

“Without healthy employees, the meat supply chains will continue to remain backlogged, affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom line. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to send COVID-19 tests, PPE, and other necessary support to prioritize testing in communities near meat and food processing plants in Colorado.”

Last week, Bennet joined several of his colleagues in pressing President Donald Trump to immediately amend his Executive Order and mandate that meat processing facilities reopen only after they have met health and safety guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In April, Bennet joined a group of 36 senators in urging Pence and other members of the Trump Administration to help ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply and to protect essential workers in the food supply chain during this crisis.

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Vice President Pence:

I write to request an update on your April 10 commitment to provide tests, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other protective health measures to the JBS USA (JBS) plant in Greeley, Colorado and ask your assistance in procuring similar provisions for other meat and food processing plant employees in Colorado. As Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, it is critical to test employees, their families, and the surrounding community to protect Coloradans’ health and safeguard our nation’s food supply.

Across the country, meat and other food processing plants are some of the largest and fastest growing COVID-19 hotspots, largely due to workers’ close proximity to each other on the job. In Colorado, this industry has the second largest number of cases and fatalities, second only to nursing homes. As you know, the outbreak associated with the JBS plant in Greeley, Colorado continues to receive national attention, with seven employee deaths and 280 COVID-19 positive cases since March 25. On April 10, you stated that you were working to ensure a flow of testing resources to Greeley to address the outbreak. That same day, JBS announced they would test all employees for COVID-19. However, after initial rounds of testing, the company postponed testing for most of the employees. Without widespread community testing and a flow of resources, we have an uncertain picture of the disease’s spread within the plant and the larger community.

As employees at meat processing plants and their families continue to get sick, it will be harder for these plants to continue operating. Without PPE and other health resources, it will be a challenge for these plants to follow health and safety recommendations that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued. Without healthy employees, the meat supply chains will continue to remain backlogged, affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom line. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to send COVID-19 tests, PPE, and other necessary support to prioritize testing in communities near meat and food processing plants in Colorado.

Please contact my office to provide an update on what you have provided and what you will provide to JBS and other meat and food processing plants no later than Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.