April 28, 2020 / 7:08 PM / a month ago

Brazil's JBS praises Trump order to keep meat plants open

FILE PHOTO: Employees walk around with face masks at the JBS USA meat packing plant, which on Monday was closed after numerous employees tested positive and two have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Greeley, Colorado, U.S., April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned executive order to keep that country’s meat plants open will bring certainty to the sector, an executive for Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA said on Tuesday.

JBS Chief Financial Officer Guilherme Cavalcanti praised Trump’s decision in a live webcast, after saying the United States only has about 15 days of meat inventory.

Trump plans to issue the executive order on Tuesday, a senior administration official said. The five-page order is designed to give companies more liability protection in case employees catch the virus as a result of having to go to work.

JBS had already closed two U.S. beef plants after workers tested positive, but later reopened them, Cavalcanti said. The company still has one beef plant and one pork factory that remain closed, the CFO said.

Cavalcanti said that, JBS has idle capacity in Brazil and Australia that can be directed toward meat exports to the United States if necessary.

The executive said the coronavirus outbreak had arrived at a time when the company was doing well financial, which will limit the damage to its business.

Reporting by Nayara Figueiredo, Writing by Jake Spring, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio

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