Illinois plant processes 12,600 hogs per day, representing approximately 3% of U.S. fresh pork supplies. St. Charles, Ill., dry sausage plant also closed.

April 24, 2020

2 Min Read
Smithfield to temporarily close Monmouth plant
Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods Inc. announced April 24 that it will proactively suspend operations at its Monmouth, Ill., facility beginning the next week and until further notice after a small portion of its 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The Monmouth plant processes 12,600 hogs per day, representing approximately 3% of U.S. fresh pork supplies, and also produces bacon. Smithfield said employees will be paid during the closure.

Smithfield noted that it has been proactively and aggressively tackling COVID-19 by implementing processes, protocols and protective measures throughout its operations and remains wholly committed to doing everything in its power to help protect its team members from COVID-19 in the workplace. At the same time, it stressed that the inherent nature of meat processing -- which is labor-intensive, assembly line-style production -- makes social distancing particularly challenging.

The company said it will continue supply team members with personal protective equipment like masks, which are stocked and in use at every single one of its facilities around the country. Smithfield has implemented thermal scanning company-wide and installed Plexiglass and other physical barriers on production floors and in break rooms. The company has been explicitly instructing employees not to report to work if they are sick and assuring that they will be paid. It is also urging its team members to take steps to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 outside the workplace.

On April 25, the Kane County Health Department in northern Illinois announced the Smithfield Foods Inc. plant in St. Charles, Ill., had been ordered to close due to concerns about COVID-19. The order temporarily closes the facility so that the health department can work with the company in mitigation efforts as well as providing education relative to social distancing and employee safety relative to personal protective equipment (PPEs).

The St. Charles facility is a dry sausage plant that employs 325 people. It was already in the process of instituting “rolling closures” before the health department order. The company’s plan was to halt incoming raw materials from April 19 to May 2, close two of three departments between April 22 to May 3 and close the final department from May 7 to May 9. The company had said employees would to be paid during the rolling closure. Neither the health department nor Smithfield commented on any positive cases.

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