Plant to close for deep cleaning, sanitizing and installation of additional physical barriers.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

April 9, 2020

3 Min Read
Smithfield temporarily closing South Dakota plant
Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods Inc. announced April 9 that it will be closing its Sioux Falls, S.D., facility for three days. The company will suspend operations in a large section of the plant on April 11 and completely shutter April 12-13.

Smithfield said it is taking this action out of an abundance of caution for its 3,700 employees in Sioux Falls, a portion of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. During this time, essential personnel will repeat the rigorous deep cleaning and sanitization that have been ongoing at the facility and install additional physical barriers to further enhance social distancing. Employees will be paid for any previously scheduled hours during the temporary closure.

“Smithfield Foods is taking the utmost precautions and actions to ensure the health and well-being of our employees – with an even increased emphasis on our critical role in the ongoing supply of food to American families. Our Sioux Falls plant supplies nearly 130 million servings of food per week, or about 18 million servings per day, to our country. Our more than 40,000 U.S. team members, thousands of American family farmers and our many other supply chain partners are a crucial part of our nation’s response to COVID-19,” Smithfield president and chief executive officer Kenneth Sullivan said.

“As an industry and as a nation, it is imperative that we continue to operate our feed mills, farms, plants and distribution centers. Together with our peers and supply chain partners, which include millions of American crop and livestock farmers, we feed America. Not operating is not an option. People need to eat,” he continued.

The government has identified agriculture and food production as critical to the response to COVID-19, and Sullivan relayed that Smithfield has an obligation and duty to American citizens to continue to produce food for the nation. “They have emphasized over and over again our special responsibility to maintain operations and normal work schedules. They have been explicit: Shelter-in-place orders do not apply to us,” he said.

Smithfield has instituted a series of stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to effectively manage COVID-19 cases in its operations. These include mandatory, 14-day, COVID-19-related quarantines with pay as an uncompromising effort to protect its dedicated employees. The company has also relaxed attendance policies to eliminate any punitive effect for missing work due to COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine.

In addition, Smithfield said it is taking many measures to minimize its team members’ risks of contracting COVID-19. These include adding extra hand sanitizing stations, boosting use of personal protective equipment, continuing to stress the importance of personal hygiene, enhancing cleaning and disinfection, expanding employee health benefits, implementing thermal scanning, increasing social distancing, installing Plexiglass and other physical barriers and restricting all non-essential visitors.

“All these actions complement the extensive safety measures in place at all our locations and are on top of the extremely hygienic and sanitary environments maintained at all times in our industry for food safety and quality purposes. We’re also ensuring employees know how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and making certain that they know how COVID-19 spreads. We continue to actively monitor CDC guidance, as well as that of state and local health authorities, and are immediately taking all necessary actions to protect our employees,” Sullivan concluded.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
Feedstuffs is the news source for animal agriculture

You May Also Like