WASHINGTON – On May 15, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) introduced legislation, which expands liability coverage for meat processing facilities that were mandated to reopen after President Donald Trump’s executive order in April.

“My bill, the Protecting Protein Production and Consumers Access Act, helps support the stability and long-term viability of our farmers and ranchers, protects the jobs of hardworking individuals who provide these critical services and rely on their jobs in these plants for their paychecks, and protects every American’s access to safe and affordable beef, pork, and poultry products,” Hartzler said.

The bill stated that “a meat processing facility shall not be liable under Federal or State law for any act or omission of the facility with respect to any harm arising from exposure to, or infraction by, the virus that causes COVID-19 during a public health emergency.”

Under Hartzler’s resolution, plants should still follow safety provisions and guidelines from local, state and federal-level health and labor agencies.

In her statement, Hartzler said that 10 Republican co-sponsors supported her legislation. She also said the bill ensures meat processing facilities are protected from frivolous lawsuits only if the claims are not caused by, gross negligence by the meat processors, willful or criminal misconduct, reckless misconduct or conscious flagrant indifference to worker safety guidelines.

Hartzler’s district in Missouri includes a Tyson Foods Inc., plant in Sedalia, Mo., and Cargill plant in California, Mo.

The entire bill can be read here.