‘Perhaps disastrous’ meat-shortage warning as largest pork producer closes U.S. plant

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[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.]

By Chris White
Daily Caller News Foundation

The world’s largest pork processor announced Sunday that it will shut a South Dakota plant indefinitely after employees were infected with coronavirus, noting that the nation’s grocers are under severe stress.

Smithfield Foods announced the shutdown as government officials keep lockdowns in place across the country amid an ebbing coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 20,000 people in the United States. Smithfield Chief Executive Ken Sullivan sounded a warning call.

“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Sullivan said in a statement Sunday. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers.”

Roughly 238 Smithfield employees had active cases of the virus, which makes up about 55% of South Dakota’s total, Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement Saturday. Noem recommended the company shutter the plant, which has about 3,700 workers, for at least two weeks.

Sullivan added: “We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19.”

The plant will resume operations once state and local officials provide guidance on a path forward, according to Sullivan’s statement, which noted that employees will be paid for the next two weeks. Local and state officials across the country are asking Americans to effectively shelter in place to slow the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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