It will close its Cudahy plant in Wisconsin and its Martin City site in Missouri later this week.
The Cudahy dry sausage and bacon plant will shutter for two weeks while its Martin City plant, which employs over 400 people and produces spiral and smoked hams, receives raw material from the company’s Sioux Falls facility in South Dakota, which is closed indefinitely.
The company explained that without these raw materials, the facility cannot continue to run and that it will resume operations in Sioux Falls once it receives further direction from local, state and federal officials which will also allow the company to bring its Martin City facility back online.
Both the Cudahy and Martin City facilities are located in close proximity to urban areas in which community spread of COVID-19 has been prevalent.
Smithfield Foods reported that a small number of employees at both plants have tested positive for COVID-19. Employees will be paid for the next two weeks during which time essential personnel will repeat the rigorous deep cleaning and sanitization that have been ongoing at the facilities.
President and chief executive officer Kenneth M. Sullivan said: “The closure of our Martin City plant is part of the domino effect underway in our industry. It highlights the interdependence and interconnectivity of our food supply chain. Our country is blessed with abundant livestock supplies, but our processing facilities are the bottleneck of our food chain. Without plants like Sioux Falls running, other further processing facilities like Martin City cannot function. This is why our government has named food and agriculture critical infrastructure sectors and called on us to maintain operations and normal work schedules. For the security of our nation, I cannot understate how critical it is for our industry to continue to operate unabated.
“We are doing everything in our power to help protect our team members from COVID-19 in the workplace. This starts with stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the CDC and extends to things like the use of thermal scanning, personal protective equipment and physical barriers, to name a few. We are also being explicit with employees: ‘Do not report to work if you are sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. You will be paid,’” Sullivan added.
These are just the latest meat processing plants to shut in the US, with JBS USA reporting a closure and Tyson Foods reporting a slowdown in production.