President Trump was asked this morning if he was worried about the food supply chain breaking but he quickly responded that they fixed that issue and Americans have nothing to worry about:
Trump said in his answer:
“We solved that problem yesterday. I expect to see the supply chain as strong as ever – maybe stronger for certain reasons. We did something – we had a roadblock, a legal roadblock more than anything else. It was a foolish thing that nobody ever took care of for a long time and we took care of it. No I expect things to go very smoothly.”
The reporter followed up saying “so the American people shouldn’t worry about the food supply chain…” and Trump responded:
“Not even a little bit. There’s a lot of supply too and now they’re going to get it. That was solved yesterday, very late in the evening.”
He didn’t go into detail on what the legal roadblock was, but two days ago Trump signed an executive order using the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open. In that executive order it alluded to something legal that would be coming from the Department of Labor:
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday compelling the nation’s meat packing plants, many of which have closed because of COVID-19 outbreaks among workers, to stay open as part of “critical infrastructure” in the United States, administration officials tell ABC News.
The five-page order is two-pronged. A senior administration official said earlier in the day, “from a (Defense Production Act) standpoint, it mandates that critical food supply operations stay open” and second, “from a liability standpoint, we will issue guidance coming from (the Department of Labor) that will provide additional liability protections.”
I checked with the Department of Labor’s website and I found this in a statement about Trump’s executive order, issuing guidance with respect to OSHA and liability:
“In addition, courts often consider compliance with OSHA standards and guidance as evidence in an employer’s favor in litigation. Where a meat, pork, or poultry processing employer operating pursuant to the President’s invocation of the DPA has demonstrated good faith attempts to comply with the Joint Meat Processing Guidance and is sued for alleged workplace exposures, the Department of Labor will consider a request to participate in that litigation in support of the employer’s compliance program. Likewise, the Department of Labor will consider similar requests by workers if their employer has not taken steps in good faith to follow the Joint Meat Processing Guidance.”
I’m not sure if that’s the legal roadblock that Trump is referring to or not, but that’s all I could find.
It’s worth noting that because Trump used the DPA to keep meat packing plants open, no state or locality has the authority to close them any longer. I suspect this is likely what Trump meant when he said he could have total control over reopening states if wanted to go that route. If he used the DPA to open them, it would supercede even the authority of governors.