The John Morrell meatpacking plant in Sioux City will close this spring. City officials were notified by plant management Tuesday that the facility will close April 20th. The plant employs about 1,400 workers and slaughters some 10,000 hogs a day. A decreasing supply of hogs is one reason given for the plant closing.
John Vossberg, of Waverly, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says the news is a big disappointment. “Anytime we lose a partner, it’s definitely not good for us,” Vossberg says. “It’s a point of sale for us and another good company that has been processing our pork for us. Anytime we lose anybody like that, it’s not good at all.”
Vossberg says it’s another indication of the poor health of the pork production business. He says it’s a trickle-down effect in the industry. “Hopefully we won’t see any more of it,” Vossberg says, “but it’s very, very possible.” More details on the plant shut down will be released later today. John Morrell was purchased by Smithfield Foods in 1997. It also operates a large packing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton
Governor Chet Culver today issued the following statement after Smithfield Foods announced their plans to close the John Morrell Plant in Sioux City:
“Today’s announcement by Smithfield to close the John Morrell facility in Sioux City is heartbreaking to me, to Northwest Iowa, and especially to the 1400 workers affected. My administration had been in communication with Smithfield, and we were prepared and ready to work with them on ways to bring new investment into the plant. Unfortunately, as a result of this national economic recession, Smithfield executives made the decision to close this facility.
“My message to the workers affected is simple. I want you to know that I was standing with you before this decision, and I am still standing with you today, and every day.
“I have ordered Iowa Workforce Development to implement their rapid response program. IWD staff will immediately begin working with employees on what options exist as they prepare for this transition. And I have directed IWD and the Iowa Department of Economic Development to work with local officials in Sioux City on how we can attract new businesses and find new jobs for these employees.
“Smithfield still employs 3,500 people in Iowa, and as Governor, I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure these employees have a good-paying job for themselves and their families.”