A federal judge in Minnesota on Thursday denied Seaboard Foods' motion to delay a return to pork line speed limits and three other processors' requests for reinstatement of waivers.
The pork packers had gained waivers from the federal government allowing them to run line speeds as fast as they wished.
In March Judge Joan Ericksen threw the waiver provisions out and agreed with the United Food and Commercial Workers' argument that the waivers violated the Administrative Procedure Act and potentially put workers at risk.
Seaboard calculated that reverting to a line speed limit of 1,106 head per hour would take about 126,000 market hogs out of its production pipeline, according to court documents.
Canadian plants can run at much higher line speeds.
Three other processors, Quality Pork Processors Inc., WholeStone Farms Cooperative Inc. and Clemens Food Group, asked the court to intervene to clarify that the judgment throwing out the USDA rule also reinstated waivers that had previously allowed them to increase their line speeds.
Ericksen denied all the motions, saying they were not timely, and the court had concluded its consideration of the merits of the case.