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US-based meat processing company Smithfield Foods has closed its facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota indefinitely due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
Smithfield Foods Sioux Falls facility is said to be one of the largest pork processing facilities in the US and represents 4% to 5% of the US pork production.
Smithfield president and CEO Kenneth M Sullivan said: “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. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.”
With a workforce of 3,700 employees, the facility has the capacity to produce 130 million servings of food per week or 18 million servings per day.
The company noted that the more than 550 independent family farmers supply the plant.
The company further added that some production activities will take place at the facility on Tuesday to process product in inventory, consisting of millions of servings of protein.
Smithfield will resume operations at the facility, once it receives further directions from local, state and federal officials. It will compensate its employees for the next two weeks.
Sullivan further added: “Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are now ubiquitous across our country. The virus is afflicting communities everywhere. The agriculture and food sectors have not been immune. Numerous plants across the country have COVID-19 positive employees.
“We have continued to run our facilities for one reason: to sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic. We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever. We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19.”