Three California congressmen cited double digit unemployment and lower beef prices in the central region of California as reasons to re-open a meat processing center that was accused of inhumane handling this week.
The congressmen, Kevin McCarthy, Jeff Denham and Devin Nunes, submitted the letter Thursday to Secretary Tom Vilsack. They said if the plant continues to remain closed, the economy of the area would suffer.
"In our view, the public interest is best served by quickly deploying the necessary personnel to supervise the plant's resumption of operations under conditions that meet appropriate regulations. You have had ample time to do this. The investigation can and should continue, but does not necessitate a prolonged and economically disastrous full stoppage of operations," they wrote.
USDA ordered suspension of the plant Aug. 21 after an undercover video depicting alleged animal abuse was brought to their attention by the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing.
The group said the video was shot over two weeks during June and July 2012 at the Hanford, Calif., plant.
The USDA said actions depicted in the video appeared to be violations of humane handling regulations, but did not identify any compromises to food safety.
The congressmen urged Secretary Vilsack to use a science-based approach to securing the U.S. food supply, and "intervene against the onslaught of attacks that are occurring at the behest of radical groups."
Rep. Devin Nunes wrote in a blog post dated Aug. 23 that the video was posted by "extremists" who undermine production agriculture. He said the "activists" have ramped up attacks, and cited an early 2012 incident when "a group used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to blow up fourteen trucks used for transporting livestock not far from Hanford." Nunes said Hanford-area residents were now confronted with "economic terrorism."
In the letter to Secretary Vilsack, the three congressmen closed with a request.
"Please show your compassion for the hard-working men and women who are now unemployed as a result of this allegation and your agency's actions," the congressmen wrote, "and restore operation of the Hanford plant immediately."