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Sixth US pork packer allowed to run faster lines

Sixth US pork packer allowed to run faster lines

US Food Safety and Inspection Service grants Clemens Food Group the opportunity to trial a one-year run with faster line speeds to measure effects on line workers and machinery.

By Andrew Joseph,; Image by GettyImages.

According to a report from the US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the USDA’s (US Department of Agriculture) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has approved Clemens Food Group, a pork packing production facility located within Coldwater, Michigan, to run faster line speeds.

Clemens Food Group is the sixth such pork packing facility in the US granted this uptick in processing.  

This one-year trial program is part of a test by the FSIS to allow faster harvesting line speeds meant to both increase packing capacity as a means to alleviate supply chain issues.

The line speeds programs was first initiated in November of 2021 after a provision in USDA's 2019 New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) was denied by a U.S. District Court in March 2021.

Since then, nine pork packing plants have applied to the NSIS program, with six of them now (with Clemens) utilizing a faster line speed.

Each of the companies is expected to collect data referencing the effects a faster line speed has on its workers and machinery, to then share with the USDA and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Once the data is compiled and a report written, it may be used to devise new regulations allowing processing plants to run at faster line speeds.

The NPPC is the entity that in 2021 wanted to get plants operating faster, and has indicated its agreement with the one-year program from the USDA.

Data backing up the initiation of faster line speeds was provided by Dermot Hayes, an economist with Iowa State University. He said that with six plants in the program, its impact on US pork harvest capacity will increase by 3.6 percent, which would increase hog prices by six percent after one year.

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