Smithfield Foods closes South Dakota plant indefinitely amid COVID-19

Published 5:14 pm Sunday, April 12, 2020


 Smithfield Foods on Sunday said it will close its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facility until further notice.


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The company, in a news release, said the closure is related to COVID-19 but did not say specifically what prompted the decision.


The plant is one of the largest pork processing facilities in the U.S., representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, the company said. 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,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, Smithfield Foods’ president and chief executive officer.

“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.


“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.”


In preparation for a full shutdown, some activity will occur at the plant on Tuesday to process product in inventory, consisting of millions of servings of protein. 



Smithfield Foods will resume operations in Sioux Falls once further direction is received from local, state and federal officials, according to the news release. The company 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.