By Government Contracts Editorial Staff
President Trump has issued Executive Order 13917, Delegating Authority Under the Defense Production Act With Respect to Food Supply Chain Resources During the National Emergency Caused by the Outbreak of COVID-19. The April 28, 2020, order stresses the importance of beef, pork, and poultry processors in the food supply chain and the need to continue operating and fulfilling orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans. However, COVID-19 outbreaks among workers at some processing facilities have led to reductions in production capacities, and actions in some states have led to the complete closure of large processing facilities. According to the order, these closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency. The order concludes that meat and poultry in the food supply chain meet the criteria specified in section 101(b) of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (50 USC 4511(b)).
Continued Operations. The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to take all appropriate action under section 101(b) to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations consistent with joint guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Further, the Secretary may identify additional specific food supply chain resources that meet section 101(b)’s criteria. The Act authorizes the President to require businesses to prioritize and accept contracts for materials and services as necessary to promote the national defense, and to offer incentives within the domestic market to enhance the production and supply of critical materials and technologies when necessary for national defense. In addition, the Act grants the President the ability to allocate or control the general distribution of materials, services, and facilities. However, under section 101(b), these powers may not be used to control the general distribution of any material in the civilian market unless the President finds the material is a scarce and critical material essential to the national defense, and the requirements of the national defense for the material cannot otherwise be met without creating a significant dislocation of the normal distribution of the material in the civilian market to such a degree as to create appreciable hardship.
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