Nebraska Appleseed is joining the opposition, citing worker safety issues.
The current maximum line speed for pork processors is 1,106 heads per hour. That is a little more than 18 per minute.
Omaid Zabih, Nebraska Appleseed federal policy director, says plant workers tell him even that is too fast.
“I think cutting that rate down by 20 percent to at least half, the workers say would be a safe speed for them, as long as there are also a sufficient number of workers on the line to help,” Zabih tells Nebraska Radio Network.
He says Nebraska meatpacking workers already have a high rate of repetitive motion injuries at current line speeds.
“A number of workers do have permanent and crippling injuries that not only affect their bodies, but also affects their families. They’re unable to do things like play with their kids or do simple tasks at home,” Zabih explains. “One of the workers we talked to for this said they actually have trouble even combing their hair.”
The USDA is reviewing roughly 70,000 comments submitted on the proposed change before issuing a final decision.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:39]