The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has responded to a federal district court ruling regarding line speeds at U.S. pork processing plants.
FSIS said that businesses operating under New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS) should prepare for a maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour on June 30, 2021. In March 2021, a federal court vacated a provision of the NSIS that enabled pork processors to establish maximum line speeds, which was set during the Trump administration.
Also in March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota ruled that FSIS violated the American Procedures Act when the agency failed to consider whether increasing line speeds would harm workers. The court's order was placed on hold for 90 days until the USDA developed a plan for plants that converted to NSIS.
Earlier this week, pork industry advocates, such as the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), asked the USDA to reconsider the ruling, as it would impact smaller hog producers. NPPC also wanted a stay while the appeal was considered, as it says that the ruling to strike down a provision in the NSIS reverses a 2019 decision to approve and implement faster line speeds. The group added that the pilot program dates back to the Clinton administration and has continued through subsequent administrations in an effort to update the inspection system that had not been updated in more than 50 years.