Tyson “Indefinitely” Halts Work at Iowa Pork Plant

April 22, 2020

4 Min Read
Tyson “Indefinitely” Halts Work at Iowa Pork Plant
Tyson is "indefinitely" shutting down a pork plant in Iowa due to COVID-19 cases. Image courtesy of Tyson Foods

Tyson Fresh Meats pork plant in Waterloo, IA will “indefinitely suspend operations” this week after over 100 COVID-19 cases were connected to the facility. Reports indicate that the company’s move could impact America’s meat supply.  

“Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we’ve implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time,” Tyson Fresh Meats Group President Steve Stouffer said in a company press release Wednesday. “Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases, and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production.”

Workers at the Waterloo site will continue to be paid during the shutdown. Tyson said its decision on when to reopen the facility will be based on “a variety of factors,” like the results of employees’ COVID-19 tests.

The company said it will begin mass testing of employees at the Waterloo plant after officials determined that some 180 coronavirus infections were related to the plant, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors, and customers, including grocers,” said Stouffer. “It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply.”

Tyson’s Waterloo plant makes up about 4% of the pork processing capacity in the US, AP’s coverage said, citing information from the National Pork Board. 

Earlier this week, Tyson announced that it was restarting some of its operations at its Columbus Junction, IA pork plant following a COVID-19-related shutdown. 

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