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Meatpacker Closings Hard on Food Supply Chain

Dan Industry News Release, Pork

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(NAFB) — Smithfield Foods will close its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, until further notice because of employees who tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s just one of several major agricultural facilities temporarily closing operations due to the pandemic.

Virginia-based Smithfield Foods says the closures are a trend that may eventually put a dent in the U.S. meat supply. “The closure of this facility, combined with the growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” says Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan. “It’s impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants aren’t up and running.” In addition to a negative impact on consumers, Sullivan also warns of “either severe or possibly disastrous repercussions” across the entire supply chain, including on livestock producers.

The company says their Sioux Falls site employs about 3,700 people, processes roughly 130 million food servings a week, and it buys from 550 independent producers. “These farmers won’t have anywhere to send their animals,” Sullivan adds.

Almost 300 employees at Smithfield in South Dakota tested positive for the coronavirus, accounting for 40 percent of all the cases in the state.

Source: National Association of Farm Broadcasters