Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processing company announced earlier this week that it was closing two additional facilities in Cudahy, Wisconson and Martin City, Missouri following the indefinite closure of it’s massive Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant late last week.
According to the press release, the decision to close these two new locations was made as a result of the Sioux Falls plant, as that processing plant supplies raw material to the two new locations. Because of the closure, the Cudahy and Martin City locations can not continue to run. Smithfield will resume operations once “it receives further direction from local, state and federal officials” after over 500 of the 3,700 employees at this location tested positive for COVID-19.
Federal authorities with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toured the closed South Dakota facility Thursday, assessing conditions and developing a plan to safety reopen the facility, according to the Governors office.
“The closure of our Martin City plant is part of the domino effect underway in our industry. It highlights the interdependence and interconnectivity of our food supply chain. Our country is blessed with abundant livestock supplies, but our processing facilities are the bottleneck of our food chain. Without plants like Sioux Falls running, other further processing facilities like Martin City cannot function. This is why our government has named food and agriculture critical infrastructure sectors and called on us to maintain operations and normal work schedules. For the security of our nation, I cannot understate how critical it is for our industry to continue to operate unabated,” he highlighted.
Smithfield officials cite the close proximity to urban areas of the two two newly closed facilities resulted in community spread of COVID-19 and noted a small number of employees at both plants having tested positive for COVID-19. Smithfield advised employees will be paid for the next two weeks during the closure, and both facilities will “repeat the rigorous deep cleaning and sanitization” which has been ongoing.
Smithfield Foods this announced earlier this week that they will provide a $100 million Responsibility Bonus to all of its hourly production and distribution center team members. The $100 million Responsibility Bonus, named for Smithfield’s preeminent guiding principle, is on top of a previous $20 million commitment by the company. Employees who miss work due to COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis will receive the Responsibility Bonus.
“We are doing everything in our power to help protect our team members from COVID-19 in the workplace. This starts with stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the CDC and extends to things like the use of thermal scanning, personal protective equipment and physical barriers, to name a few. We are also being explicit with employees: ‘Do not report to work if you are sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. You will be paid,’” Mr. Sullivan described.