Hundreds of beef-packers in western Iowa will head back to work next week as the Tyson Foods plant in Denison will reopen on Wednesday. The plant, along with several others nationwide, was put on furlough January 10th. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson says while operations will resume, it won’t be in full production. Mickelson says they’re optimistic the supply of cattle will improve, especially as the supply of Canadian cattle resumes. This is the first step in a two-week staggered process of resuming operations at several facilities in the upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest that were idled due to market conditions. Mickelson says workers have been getting about 32-hours of pay each week since the second week of the suspension. “This has been a very difficult process, obviously, for our our team members, for our plant communities,” Mickelson says. “We’re pleased that we’re able to resume operations and we’re very anxious for market conditions to improve so we can see more hours for our plants.” Mickelson says it’s still possible the USDA will -not- again start allowing the imports of Canadian beef into the U-S. If that happens, Mickelson says “we’ll have to assess our options.” He says progress is being made at getting Japan to start taking U-S beef again. Many details and regulatory issues still have to be resolved, but Mickelson says positive steps are being taken, though he says it will still likely be months before the U-S is sending a “meaningful” amount of beef to the Far East. Tyson also suspended or cut operations at plants in Nebraska, Idaho and Washington.
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