AgriProcessors-Related News From the Last Fortnight
Operations at AgriProcessors were suspended earlier this month, but AgriProcessors' court-appointed bankruptcy trustee said today that he expects production to resume on Monday or Tuesday. According to The Des Moines Register, "The plant will start production with the slaughter of 700,000 company-owned chickens that currently are at farms in Iowa and Minnesota, Sarachek said. Eventually, it could resume beef production as well."
Here are just a few of the news stories and other tidbits of information from the last two weeks:
- The Baltimore Jewish Times reported that the kosher meat shortage "is affecting nearly 90 percent of kashrut-observant consumers around the country." The paper quoted Rabbi Deborah Wechsler as saying, "The irony of this [shortage] is that in many ways, it's a victory for the ethical dimensions of kashrut."
- The kosher meat industry is changing, and many changes are because of the problems at AgriProcessors. Starting this week, Empire is slaughtering 50 percent more chickens, marking the company's second production increase this year. Sara Lee will stop making kosher meats by January 30; the Chicago Sun-Times says that the company "has been trimming brands to focus on areas of business in which it believes it can be most profitable." The Forward reported that this month's Kosherfest convention "was marked by a sense of panic" and that food producers "were talking about finding substitutes for meat, ranging from fish to poultry to soy products." The paper noted, "Robert Friedman, a manufacturer of beef jerky, said he was thinking of expanding his lines of turkey and soy jerky."
- The Daily Kos posted a timeline of the Rubashkins' controversies and other key happenings.
- The Forward ran a board editorial with some very sharp criticism of AgriProcessors:
Agriprocessors’ downfall is not simply an economic crisis, but also a spiritual and moral one. … The behavior attributed to Agriprocessors and its owners … ought to disqualify the company’s products from receiving religious certification by any standard worthy of the name. That the products continue to be accepted as kosher, even as the company’s owners face massive fines and jail time on suspicion of misdeeds that have shocked a nation, is a scandal nearly as great as the owners’ actions themselves. . . .
The rules of kashruth are a legacy of the Jewish spiritual tradition, preserved by the courage of countless generations as a gift to the present. Dishonoring them and violating their spirit shames all Jews. Those who honor the laws must stand up to their abuse.