US President Donald Trump has ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect the nation's food supply amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He invoked a Korean War-era law from the 1950s to mandate that the plants continue to function, amid industry warnings of strain on the supply chain.
An estimated 3,300 US meatpacking workers have been diagnosed with coronavirus and 20 have died.
The UN last month warned the emergency threatened global food supply chains.
Twenty-two US meatpacking plants across the American Midwest have closed during the outbreak.
They include slaughterhouses owned by the nation's biggest poultry, pork and beef producers, such as Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, Cargill and JBS USA.
What does the White House say?
"Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency," says Tuesday evening's executive order, invoking the 1950 Defense Production Act.
"Given the high volume of meat and poultry processed by many facilities, any unnecessary closures can quickly have a large effect on the food supply chain."
The order designates the meatpacking plants as part of critical infrastructure in the US.
A White House official told US media it will work with the Department of Labor to issue guidance for vulnerable workers, such as over-65s and those with chronic health conditions, to stay at home.