Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, is closing down its Sioux Falls, South Dakota processing plants “indefinitely” due to a coronavirus outbreak that caused 238 employees to test positive for the virus.
Previously reported last week, Smithfield Foods, Inc., is the largest pork and hog processing company,based in Smithfield, Virginia temporarily closed the Sioux Falls facility after over 80 workers tested positive. With over 30 processing plants across the United States, they are the largest pork producer in the World. They are a wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group of China. According to their website, the company has over 55,000 employees worldwide with revenues exceeding $15 billion.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said on Saturday that 238 Smithfield employees had active cases of the new coronavirus, accounting for 55% of the state’s total. Noem and the mayor of Sioux Falls had recommended the company shut the plant, which has about 3,700 workers, for at least two weeks.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a 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,“ Smithfield Chief Executive Ken Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,”
“These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers,” Sullivan cautioned.
Deaths have been reported for employees at meat facilities owned by JBS SA and Tyson Foods Inc. Laborers have, in some cases, staged walk-outs to protest working conditions prompting the meat processors to close some of their plants.