Media Moves

Tyson Foods closes largest pork processing plant

April 23, 2020

Posted by Irina Slav

Tyson Foods closed its largest pork processing plant after pressure from local officials that the plant is a hotbed of Covid-19.

A Tyson Fresh Meats plant stands in Waterloo, Iowa, date not known. On Friday, April 17, 2020, more than a dozen Iowa elected officials asked Tyson to close the pork processing plant because of the spread of the coronavirus among its workforce of nearly 3,000 people. (Jeff Reinitz/The Courier via AP)

Ryan J. Foley reported the news for the AP:

Tyson Foods suspended operations Wednesday at an Iowa plant that is critical to the nation’s pork supply but was blamed for fueling a massive coronavirus outbreak in the region.

The Arkansas-based company said the closure of the plant in Waterloo would deny a vital market to hog farmers and further disrupt U.S. meat supply. Tyson had kept the facility, its largest pork plant, open in recent days over the objections of alarmed local officials.

The plant can process 19,500 hogs per day, accounting for 3.9% of U.S. pork processing capacity, according to the National Pork Board.

More than 180 infections have been linked to the plant and officials expect that number to dramatically rise. Testing of its 2,800 workers is expected to begin Friday. Cases and hospitalizations in Black Hawk County have skyrocketed in recent days and local officials say the plant is the source of most infections.

Chauncey Alcorn from CNN wrote:

Later on Wednesday, Tyson announced it will also close another pork plant in Logansport, Indiana, by the end of this week.

“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,” Tyson Fresh Meats group president Steve Stouffer said in a statement on the Waterloo facility.

Stouffer acknowledged that the plant’s closure may add to the current disruption of the nation’s pork supply chain, adding that the facility is “part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers.”

“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company,” he said.

The Logansport plant alone produces 3 million pounds of pork per day, and works with 250 independent farmers, the company said Wednesday.


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