Governor Chet Culver uses the word “heartbreaking” to describe the closure of the John Morrell Plant in Sioux City. Culver says the news is heartbreaking to him, “to northwest Iowa, and especially to the 1,400 workers” at the plant who’ll be losing their jobs.
“We will be working with the employees at John Morrell. Obviously, we’re concerned with the announcement,” Culver says. “The Department of Workforce Development will deploy any and all resources to assist and our director, Liz Buck, is already working with the personnel team at the Morrell plant on doing all we can to help.”
Smithfield Farms, the Virginia based company that is the world’s largest hog producer, purchased John Morrell in 1997. In a prepared statement, Culver said Smithfield still employs 3,500 people in Iowa and, as governor, he will “continue to do everything in (his) power to ensure these employees have a good-paying job for themselves and their families.”
The John Morrell plant in Sioux City slaughters about 10,000 hogs per day. It’s set to close April 20th. Smithfield executives have said declining pork prices were a factor in their decision. State officials indicate the age of the facility was another factor in the closure. The governor spoke briefly about the Sioux City plant closing this morning after a formal bill signing in his statehouse office.
“And I will be traveling there (to Sioux City) in the near future to do what I can to assist personally in this matter,” Culver said. “And I’ll also be going to Webster City to meet with the Electrolux employees.” Chiquita — a previous owner of the John Morrell plant in Sioux City — announced in 1993 that it would close the plant, but city leaders arranged a loan for the company to buy new equipment and the plant did not close.
The plant began slaughter operations in 1957 as Sioux City Dressed Pork. Morrell bought the facility in 1986.