Update on the Packing Industry and Plant Closures


In the United States, several plats remain open despite reporting new cases of COVID-19. A Cargill plant and a Sanderson Farms plant remain open, both in Waco, Texas. Also, C.S. Beef packers in Idaho and West Central Turkeys, a subsidiary of Jennie-O, located in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota remain open.

After closing for cleaning and retooling their systems, these U.S. Plants are reopening: Jennie-O in Melrose, Minnesota, Hormel plants in Willmar, Minnesota and Alma, Kansas, and a Tyson Foods Facility in North Carolina.

Across the northern border in Canada, two Ontario locations of Sofina Foods opt to stay open. The facility in Mississauga and the one in Burlington both reported a new case of COVID-19.

Some Canadian meat plants are having to shutdown due to outbreaks: Cargill in Chambly, Quebec, Superior Poultry in British Columbia, and Union Poultry in Vancouver.

Three Canadian plants are reopening after extended closures for cleaning. They include Conestoga Meats in Breslau, Ontario and two locations belonging to Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry, both are located in Vancouver.

Senate Republicans are working to avoid potential for “gross negligence” from packing plant companies with new legislation. The liability provision is being narrowly crafted by Senate Republicans and the Judiciary Committee is expected to meet today for a hearing on the issue.

Two groups have been critical of reopening the packing plants: the workers union and the National Employment Law Project. Representatives from both organizations will testify today.

Additionally, a group of House Democrats, including Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, are pushing for COVID-19 testing in the 4th phase of the relief package. They specifically want $250 billion dollars for widespread testing, especially within the food processing and health care sectors. The House Democrats note that without testing in every community setbacks could occur as the economy begins to rebound.

A group of Senators has also requested leading lawmakers to include funds to cover the cost of euthanization in the next relief package. Reports show that 400 thousand animals per will will need disposal services.

For all updates on the Coronavirus and how it impacts Rural America, visit our Coronavirus outbreak hub.