“Across North Carolina, our country and the world, COVID-19 has made us more aware of the essential service our food system provides. Fortunately, the chicken industry has a track record of innovating to meet the public’s needs while protecting their community of employees, no matter the challenge,” wrote NCC President Mike Brown and N.C. Poultry Federation Executive Director Bob Ford in a recent op Ed that ran in the Raleigh News & Observer.”

A copy of the op Ed can be found here and the remainder of the piece is below:

“As we continue navigating recent cases in the state’s chicken plants, our top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of essential workers who are keeping the country supplied with chicken. North Carolina’s chicken producers and employees are showing great resilience by taking charge to guarantee America’s number one protein reaches our local grocery aisles. That starts with keeping our most important asset – our employees – safe. The fact is that chicken plant managers in Lumber Bridge, Kinston, Monroe, Goldsboro, Sanford, Rockingham, Rose Hill, Wilkesboro and all over the state wake up every single morning and the first thing they ask themselves is, “Are we doing everything in our power to take real actions within our facilities to protect our employees from this virus?”

“Committed to protecting every employee, the industry is carefully following CDC, OSHA and USDA guidelines and maintains constant contact with local health officials.

“Further, chicken companies are implementing additional measures to keep workers safe. Among numerous others actions, companies are applying increased cleaning and sanitation of plants, temperature checks before entering the facility, social distancing measures, installing plastic dividers between work stations, issuing masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and encouraging at-risk or sick employees to stay home, with pay. Our companies openly communicate information about COVID-19 to employees, often in multiple languages, and have protocols for identifying any employee that may have been in contact with a COVID-19 co-worker.

“It is crucial to maintain the health and welfare of the people working tirelessly to produce and deliver our food so we can continue to support local communities and supply nutritious meals to families across the country.

“Unfortunately, a well-financed network of activists, lawyers and others are trying to take advantage of this situation and incite fear and panic among our workforce that does little to help us accomplish our mission. These groups are using COVID-19 as a bridge to advance their agenda of taking down modern livestock agriculture.

“Chicken plants also support North Carolina’s farmers who depend on chicken companies to process and distribute the birds they raise. Shutting down a plant is debilitating for farmers’ businesses. Unfortunately, drops in processing capacity have already impacted farmers in the state.

“Because of this, the National Chicken Council and North Carolina Poultry Federation have been and will continue to advocate for funds in any next federal aid package for growers who have experienced fewer flocks, reduced placements or increased downtime due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, chicken growers to date have been left on the sidelines.

“In solidarity with their local and regional communities, chicken companies are donating millions of dollars and millions of pounds of chicken to food banks, soup kitchens, local health care facilities, police and fire stations. If you visit a community near a chicken plant in the coming days, you may likely find a company selling reduced price chicken directly from their trucks.

“While these efforts may not drive attention-getting headlines or make their way into sensationalized media stories, know that North Carolina’s chicken producers are doing everything they can to keep our workers healthy and safe, and keep America fed – in that order.

“We are going to get through this together – as a community – one meal at a time.”

Mike Brown is president of the National Chicken Council
Bob Ford is the executive director of the NC Poultry Federation