Tyson Foods temporarily closes Nebraska processing plant due to fire outbreak

USA – Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, has diverted pigs from a Nebraska processing plant after a weekend fire kept the facility closed to other facilities to avoid disruptions to U.S. pork production and backing up hogs on farms.

They’re able to absorb anything like this and keep the animal flow going,” said Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. “We have farmers that need to deliver pigs on time.”

The pork processing plant will have limited operations for the rest of the week as the company assesses the damage and begins to make repairs, according to Tyson.

“During this time, we are diverting livestock normally received at our Madison plant to other Tyson Foods pork facilities and do not expect disruption in our ability to meet our customer needs,” Tyson said.

The plant has about 1,200 employees and operates one shift a day to process pigs. A statement from the company said the Madison employees will be “taken care of” as Tyson “gradually resumes production.”

Steve Meyer, lead economist for Partners for Production Agriculture said that although the company is not among Tyson’s biggest plants, it typically slaughters roughly 8,250 hogs a day, representing about 2% of daily U.S. hog slaughtering.

There are three other Tyson Foods plants in Nebraska: Lexington, Omaha, and Dakota City. The company has seven pork processing facilities with an overall head-per-week capacity of 471,000.

Meanwhile, Tyson plans to close the plant in Van Buren, Arkansas, on May 12, eliminating jobs for 969 non-union employees, as it seeks to improve performance in its chicken business.

Approximately 150 employees of the chicken plant in Arkansas went on strike, recently, for better treatment before the company shuts the facility, an organizer said.

Employees refused to work in part because Tyson said they would not receive full payouts for vacation time they accrued, said Magaly Licolli, director of Venceremos, an organization that advocates for poultry workers in Arkansas.

Tyson later announced that it already had a policy in place to give full payouts to employees with unused vacation or holiday time. The company said it will also pay a bonus of US$1,000 to workers who stay in their jobs until the plant closes.

The company has also received pushback over a plan to shut a chicken plant in Glen Allen, Virginia, with 692 employees and said it will shift demand to other facilities from the plants it is closing.

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