Cargill announces Milwaukee plant closure due to cattle shortage

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Drought has affected US cattle numbers, with supply tight
Drought has affected US cattle numbers, with supply tight

Related tags Cattle Livestock Beef

Up to 600 jobs are at risk at Cargill’s beef harvest facility in Milwaukee, after the firm revealed it will shut down the site as of close of business on 1 August 2014.

Located in the Menomonee Valley in Wisconsin, US, the site, purchased in 2001, is one of seven US Cargill Beef harvest plants and processes around 1,300 head of cattle per day.

However, the site has been deemed unviable to operate, due to diminished cattle supply "brought about by producers retaining cattle for herd expansion",​ said Cargill.

Drought has had a huge effect on US cattle numbers of late, with numbers in March this year reported to be around the levels seen in the 1950s at around 87 million.

Efforts will be made to find alternative roles for affected staff at other company locations in the region, it said, while those who are made redundant will be offered support from the company. 

John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, based in Wichita, Kansas, said: "Closing our Milwaukee beef plant is taking place only after we conducted an 18-month-long analysis of the region’s cattle supply and examined all other possible options.

"It is unfortunate that we must close any beef plant, because of the impact to good people, their families and the community. The harsh reality is that the US beef cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1951, with any significant herd expansion being years away."

Its ground beef plant, which employs around 200 people and is located on the same site, will remain open.

Cargill said its six remaining beef harvest plants in California, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Pennsylvania are unaffected.

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