Smithfield Foods to shutter California meat-packing plant ::

— Meat-packing large Smithfield Foods mentioned Friday it would shut its solely California plant subsequent yr, citing the escalating price of doing enterprise within the state.

The Farmer John meat-packing plant in Vernon, an industrial suburb south of Los Angeles, will shut down in February, with its 1,800 staff receiving severance and job placement assist together with bonuses for many who select to remain on the job till the closure, mentioned Jim Monroe, vp of company affairs.

Some staff, who on common earn about $21 per hour, additionally could have alternatives to relocate to different amenities owned by the Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc.

The Vernon plant slaughters pigs and packages merchandise similar to ham and bacon. Some operations will likely be moved to different amenities within the Midwest, however the total discount in processing capability is prompting Smithfield to cut back its sow herd in Utah. The corporate additionally mentioned it’s exploring methods to exit its farms in California and Arizona.

Monroe mentioned working prices in California are a lot increased than in different areas of the nation, together with taxes and the value of water, electrical energy and pure fuel.

“Our utility costs in California are 3 1/2 times higher per head than our other locations where they do the same type of work,” he mentioned.

The shutdown isn’t anticipated to cut back provide or improve prices on merchandise, and Farmer John Merchandise will nonetheless be offered in California, Monroe mentioned.

“There won’t be any impact on our customers,” he mentioned.

The Vernon plant has been the goal of repeated protests by animal rights activists over its remedy of hogs. It additionally was hard-hit through the COVID-19 pandemic, with some 300 staff uncovered to infections in 2020. A number of have been hospitalized.

California’s Division of Occupational Security and Well being fined Smithfield Foods about $60,000 for security violations that uncovered staff to an infection.

Smithfield Foods was based in Smithfield, Virginia, in 1936 and based on its web site gives greater than 40,000 jobs in america. It was acquired in 2013 by Hong Kong-based WH Group.

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