Tyson Foods Suspends Operations at its Largest Pork Plant After COVID-19 Outbreak

Tyson Foods is indefinitely suspending operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant.

The group president of the beef and pork subsidiary of the company says the reason for the closing of the company's largest pork plant is "the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases, and community concerns."

"Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we've implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time," said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, in a statement.

"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," he continued.

"The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company since the 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 continued.

The Waterloo team members affected by the closure will continue to be paid.

Leaders say the re-opening of the plant will depend on several factors, "including the outcome of team member testing for COVID-19."

The Associated Press reports the Iowa plant was blamed for a coronavirus outbreak in the community. The AP goes on to say more than 180 infections have been connected to the plant, and officials anticipate that number to significantly increase.

The news outlet reports several other meatpacking plants have temporarily shut their doors because of virus outbreaks, including a Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a JBS USA plant in Worthington, Minnesota.

Others have stayed open or started up production again after stopping for worker testing and cleaning.


April 22, 2020