BPI creates $10m fund for those affected by 2012 plant closures

Company was forced to lay off approximately 750 employees and close three production facilities.

The Roth family announced this week that it is establishing a $10 million fund to benefit former employees of their BPI companies and communities that were negatively affected by plant closures in 2012. Headquartered in Dakota Dunes, S.D., the BPI family of companies consists of Beef Products Inc., BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Machines Inc.

BPI was forced to lay off approximately 750 employees and close three of its production facilities in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kan., and Waterloo, Iowa, at that time due to false reporting concerning the companies and lean finely textured beef.

“We remain committed to our employees and communities and so are dedicating $10 million to benefit the employees who lost their jobs in 2012,” BPI founder Eldon Roth noted. “While it took us longer to get here than we had hoped, we are pleased to finally be able to reconnect with those former employees and see what we can do to help them continue to recover.”

Rich Jochum and Jennifer Letch, corporate administrators for the companies, will be coordinating efforts for review of applications for the funds from former employees, with the help of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in the affected communities.

“BPI is seeking to partner with organizations in affected communities, including the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. We are early in the planning stages but will be kicking off the process next month,” Jochum noted.

While the effort is still in the planning stages, participation criteria will likely include the length of service with BPI, the amount of potential unemployment, the impact the loss of employment had and similar factors, he added.

The BPI companies filed suit against ABC News in 2012 after the network ran a month-long disinformation campaign targeting lean finely textured beef, the companies’ core product. The campaign led to an immediate business decline of approximately 80% that forced BPI to close production facilities in three different states. Staff also had to be reduced at the remaining facility in South Sioux City, Neb., and at the corporate headquarters in Dakota Dunes. The case went to trial in June 2017, and a settlement was announced on June 28, 2017.

“The effects of the ABC News campaign were felt by more than just our employees and certainly continue on through today as we continue to operate only one of the four production facilities,” Jochum said. “Only after we are able to re-establish markets and reopen the other plants will cattle producers, consumers and others that relied upon our production to add value to their communities be able to recover.”

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