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SPLC statement on USDA’s rejection of poultry industry request for faster line speeds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday rejected the National Chicken Council’s (NCC’s) petition to waive all line speed limits at poultry plants.

The USDA’s decision to reject the poultry industry’s request to remove all line speed limits is an important victory for poultry workers in this current climate of deregulation and corporate welfare.

The current limit of 140 birds per minute is already too high, and eliminating all poultry line speed limits would only further endanger workers’ safety and line the industry’s pockets even faster.

As the SPLC has been saying for years, many health and safety problems in poultry processing are rooted in incredibly fast line speeds and the unrelenting pace of work that they demand.

Poultry plants consistently put production and profits above worker health and safety. This leads to repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, and prevents workers from taking breaks to use the bathroom as needed.

We will continue to fight to ensure that this administration keeps the health and safety of our nation’s poultry workers in mind as they consider case-by-case exceptions to the agency’s current line speed guidelines.

The SPLC submitted comments opposing the NCC’s waiver request, and met with the USDA as part of a broad coalition of worker advocacy groups that urged the agency to reject the request.