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One of the largest pork processing facilities in the US is closing until further notice

By | Rachel Brooks

Staff | Telegraph Local 

See | The New African Livings Standard 

Above, Smithfield plant as it appeared on a recent ABC broadcast.

One of the largest pork processing facilities in the United States is closing until further notice, citing NBC13. The Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is closing until further notice as several employees fall ill from the COVID-19. The Smithfield CEO states that the U.S. meat supply will now be in jeopardy.

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NBC 13 quoted the CEO of Smithfield Kenneth Sullivan as follows, 

“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. 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.” 

 South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem addressed the state in a Saturday news briefing.  and alerted the public that an overwhelming half of South Dakota COVID-19 cases came from the Smithfield plant. She stated that 240 Smithfield employees are sick. This roughly half of the states 430 cases of COVID-19. 

South Dakota is not the only state that has closed meat processing plants due to COVID-19. There are also processors in Iowa and Pennsylvania who have chosen to act accordingly. 

NBC 13 reported that Smithfield will maintain some activity within the plant on Tuesday for inventory processing purposes. Smithfield likewise stated that the company will compensate employees for the next two weeks. 

Fox 8 also reported the Smithfield closure on Sunday. Fox 8 quoted Governor Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken’s letter to Smithfield urging the plant to suspend normal operations as follows, 

“As a critical infrastructure employer for the nation’s food supply chain and a major employer in Sioux Falls, it is crucial that Smithfield have a healthy workforce to ensure the continuity of operations to feed the nation. At the same time, employees need a healthy work environment.”

Smithfield’s CEO Sullivan was also quoted by Fox 8 News when the company agreed upon a three-day closure last week so that they could sanitize the facility. Smithfield’s initial statement proceeded as follows, 

“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.  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,” CEO Kenneth Sullivan, as quoted by Fox 8 News. The plant has since agreed to suspend processing, but not without trepidation. 

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Fox 8 News reported that the facility in Iowa that was closed due to COVID-19 was a Tyson Foods plant. The Tyson Foods location is in Columbus Junction, Iowa. 

Fox8 further stated that the Department of Agriculture has stated that there has been no evidence that the coronavirus is being transmitted through food or food packaging. 

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