Avian influenza results in shutdown at Jennie-O

Jennie-O Turkey Store announced May 5 that it is laying off 233 employees at its processing plant in Faribault, Minn.

Jennie-O Turkey Store announced May 5 that it is laying off 233 employees at its processing plant in Faribault, Minn.

The cutback is the result of avian influenza which has limited the number of available turkeys for processing. Forty of Jennie-O’s company-owned or contract farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin have been hit with H5N2.

The company said it will switch to a single shift for the foreseeable future and that the layoffs will be temporary.

In a call following the announcement with Jennie-O president Glenn Leitch, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton offered the company, area turkey growers and the workers impacted by today’s layoff announcement, any and all possible assistance from the state during this difficult time. Dayton and Leitch also discussed the governor’s efforts to pass legislation this session that would provide low-interest loans to farmers whose flocks have been impacted by avian influenza.

Jennie-O, a division of Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp., is based in Willmar, Minn., and is the nation’s second-largest turkey processor.

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