USDA will allow pork plants to increase their maximum line speeds.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invited nine pork processing plants to apply to a trial program to increase their maximum line speeds, Reuters reports, as supply chain disruptions and high demand drive up prices for pork products. The one-year pilot, which will demonstrate whether productivity in plants can be increased without risking worker safety, comes on the heels of a March court decision to throw out a 2019 Trump-era ruling that removed the speed cap. According to The Des Moines Register, some pork packing plants at the time were processing 1,450 head an hour and were ordered to reduce their line speed to 1,106 head in the same time period. One analysis found that pork companies would lose 2.5 percent of their processing capacity at the lower speeds mandated by the March decision, even with mandatory overtime. — Matthew Sedacca