Tyson says it will close pork processing plant in Iowa indefinitely due to COVID-19

Tyson says it will close pork processing plant in Iowa indefinitely due to COVID-19

Tyson Foods said Wednesday it is suspending operations indefinitely at its Waterloo pork processing plant.

The Arkansas company also said it will offer COVID-19 testing to all of its 2,800 employees at the plant while it's closed.

The decision to close the plant, Tyson's largest pork processing facility, comes after employees at the company's Waterloo and Dakota City, Nebraska, plants have died from COVID-19.

Chris Schwartz, a Black Hawk County supervisor, said the closure is "good news for the employees and for the health and well being of the entire community."

Schwartz said he hoped the action came "soon enough" to prevent more workers from becoming ill.

More than 180 infections had been confirmed among plant workers earlier this week, the Associated Press reported, and officials expect that number to rise.

Free food alert!:Wendy's offering free nuggets as part of its coronavirus response

'Not right what they're doing':Smallest businesses feel big banks are shutting them out of stimulus program

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state will help with employee testing, which she believes will begin Friday.

Tyson said the Waterloo plant had been running at reduced levels of production due to worker absenteeism. A decision to restart the plant depends on the outcome of the testing, among other factors, the company said.

The Board of Health in Black Hawk County passed a resolution Tuesday that called for the plant to close. As of Wednesday, the county had a total of 379 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and two deaths. The board's resolution called the plant the "largest single source" of infection in the county.

Schwartz said he believed temporarily closing the plant and conducting widespread testing of workers, along with taking added safety precautions, could prevent a larger disruption of the nation's food supply chain.

Tyson's top concern has been for the safety of employees, said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, and that was "the reason we’ve implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time.”

“Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe, while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production," Stouffer said in a statement.

Tyson said employees will continue to be paid while the plant is closed.

Stouffer warned that closing the plant, which can process about 19,500 hogs per day — about 4% of the U.S. pork processing capacity — would have "significant ramifications" beyond the company. Another, even larger Smithfield processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, near the Iowa border, already had closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Waterloo plant "is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers,” Stouffer said.

“It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply,” he said.

Iowa experts warned this week that pork producers face the possibility of euthanizing thousands of pigs with the loss of 25% of the nation's processing capacity as meatpacking plants have slowed or closed due to COVID-19.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at deller@registermedia.com or 515-284-8457.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/22/coronavirus-tyson-closes-pork-processing-meat-packing-plant/3005152001/

News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »