Smithfield Foods, Inc. will be closing its Cudahy, Wis. and Martin City, Mo. facilities beginning later this week. Its Cudahy dry sausage and bacon plant will shutter for two weeks. Its Martin City plant, which employs over 400 people and produces spiral and smoked hams, receives raw material from the company's Sioux Falls, S.D. facility, which is closed indefinitely. Without these raw materials, the facility cannot continue to run. Smithfield will resume operations in Sioux Falls once it receives further direction from local, state and federal officials. This will also allow the company to bring its Martin City facility back online.
The Cudahy and Martin City facilities are located in close proximity to urban areas in which community spread of COVID-19 has been prevalent. A small number of employees at both plants have tested positive for COVID-19. Employees will be paid for the next two weeks during which time essential personnel will repeat the rigorous deep cleaning and sanitization that have been ongoing at the facilities.
"From farm to fork, our nation's food workers, American family farmers and the many others in the supply chain are vital to the security of our country. This is particularly evident as we battle COVID-19 together. Please join me in thanking them," says Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer, for Smithfield.
"The closure of our Martin City plant is part of the domino effect underway in our industry. It highlights the interdependence and interconnectivity of our food supply chain. Our country is blessed with abundant livestock supplies, but our processing facilities are the bottleneck of our food chain. Without plants like Sioux Falls running, other further processing facilities like Martin City cannot function. This is why our government has named food and agriculture critical infrastructure sectors and called on us to maintain operations and normal work schedules. For the security of our nation, I cannot understate how critical it is for our industry to continue to operate unabated.
"We are doing everything in our power to help protect our team members from COVID-19 in the workplace. This starts with stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the CDC and extends to things like the use of thermal scanning, personal protective equipment and physical barriers, to name a few. We are also being explicit with employees: 'Do not report to work if you are sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. You will be paid.'"
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.