In April, the titans of Meat Inc. started squealing like stuck pigs, claiming that the forced shutdowns of dozens of their slaughterhouses were creating an impending national crisis: Steak shortages! America is “perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” squealed the CEO of Smithfield Foods. Our “food supply chain is breaking,” yowled the chair of Tyson Foods, shrieking that his meat factories must re-open and workers risk their lives so “we can supply food to our families in America.”
Luckily for them, their corporate-compassionate US president was there, immediately issuing a federal fiat that their plants must return to full production “to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans.” Never mind that alternative protein sources–including beans, grains, and dairy–were abundant, there was, in fact, zero risk of US meat shortages. Indeed, a record 2.5 billion pounds of red meat and poultry was piled in America’s cold-storage warehouses.
Even more damning: While the executives were publicly playing Chicken Little in their campaign to grind out profits at the cost of workers’ lives, they were exporting shiploads of US meat. In April alone, Big Meat shipped a record amount of US pork–129,000 tons–to China.