For Immediate Release
Food and meat processing facilities across the country have become hotspots of COVID-19 outbreaks. One recent case is the Tillamook-owned Columbia River Processing Plant in Morrow County, Oregon, where 22 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among the facility’s creamery workers and their families.
In response, Food & Water Action Senior Attorney Tarah Heinzen released the following statement:
“This outbreak underscores the troubling link between the factory farm and industrial dairy systems and an array of public health and safety issues. Workers’ health is sacrificed for the sake of uninterrupted production and corporate profits.
"It appears Tillamook waited until a state inspection to adopt basic protections like face coverings and physical distancing, and then waited until mandated by the state to inform at-risk employees of the outbreak -- despite the initial positive case reported to the Oregon Health Authority on June 16. Its failure to act put countless more people at risk.
"This outbreak has exposed the state’s continued inadequate response to protect communities in Morrow and Umatilla counties from the impacts of industrial dairies. As cases continue to increase and this outbreak unfolds, it is unconscionable that Oregon is moving forward with permitting a new mega-dairy, Easterday Farms, that will exacerbate the extreme consolidation that clearly puts workers at risk. It’s well past time for Oregon to enact a mega-dairy moratorium and provide meaningful protections for food and farm workers.”