Smithfield Foods to close Sioux Falls, SD plant indefinitely amid Covid-19
Smithfield Foods, Inc. has announced that its Sioux Falls, SD facility will remain closed until further notice. The plant is one of the largest pork processing facilities in the United States, representing four to five percent of US pork production. It supplies nearly 130 million servings of food per week, or about 18 million servings per day, and employs 3,700 people. More than 550 independent family farmers supply the plant.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer, for Smithfield.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.”
“Unfortunately, Covid-19 cases are now ubiquitous across our country. The virus is afflicting communities everywhere. The agriculture and food sectors have not been immune. Numerous plants across the country have Covid-19 positive employees. We have continued to run our facilities for one reason: to sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic. We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever. We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of Covid-19,” he concluded.
In preparation for a full shutdown, some activity will occur at the plant on Tuesday (14th April) to process product in inventory, consisting of millions of servings of protein. Smithfield will resume operations in Sioux Falls once further direction is received from local, state and federal officials. The company says it will continue to compensate its employees for the next two weeks and hopes to keep them from joining the ranks of the tens of millions of unemployed Americans across the country.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of Covid-19. More information on Smithfield’s Covid-19 response can be found here.
40 million servings donated to US food banks
The company also announced its largest donation in company history as food banks across the United States struggle to meet the increased demand as a result of the Covid-19 virus. The donation of over 10 million pounds of protein – the equivalent of more than 40 million servings – to food banks nationwide builds upon Smithfield’s recently launched “Good Food Challenge” to raise awareness and increase support for Feeding America in this critical time of increased need.
“The challenges our country is facing are unprecedented, and food banks across America are feeling the strain as food insecurity reaches new heights. Helping ensure the wellbeing of our neighbors in need is of the utmost importance now more than ever. To help meet this immense need, Smithfield is making our largest donation ever in hunger-relief support and deploying hundreds of truckloads of protein to communities throughout the country in response to Covid-19,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president, corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods
These donations, valued at more than $30 million, join the more than $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions previously announced as part of Smithfield’s Covid-19 response through the company’s signature hunger-relief initiative, Helping Hungry Homes®. Since the inception of the programme, Smithfield says it has donated nearly 200 million servings of protein to food banks, school nutrition programmes, disaster relief efforts and community outreach programmes in all 50 states across America.