Tyson Foods in the last week announced it was closing one beef plant and re-opening a pork plant.
On April 29, Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc., said it was winding down production and would temporarily pause operations May 1-4 at its Dakota City, Nebraska, beef facility to complete a deep cleaning of the entire plant. The company said it has been working closely with the local health department and is also in the process of screening plant team members for COVID-19, with assistance from the Nebraska National Guard.
On May 1, Tyson announced its plans to resume limited pork-processing production at its Logansport, Indiana, facility the week of May 4, following a plant tour with local health and government officials, a union representative, and medical professionals. That facility temporarily halted operations on April 25 to test its workers for COVID-19.
The Nebraska plant is one of the largest beef processing facilities in the country. It employs 4,300 workers and normally produces enough beef in one day to feed 18 million people. However, Tyson says increased absenteeism over the last few weeks has caused the company to scale back production. While the plant is temporarily idled, and in collaboration with United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 222, team members will continue to be compensated and asked to continue following CDC guidance such as social distancing, persistent hand washing and wearing of facial coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the company said.
One Tyson official said while the facility was idled, the company added more workstation barriers, installed more hand sanitizer dispensers, and did additional deep cleaning and sanitation. He said the company also is now screening employees for additional symptoms and designating monitors to help enforce social distancing, following the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recommendations for meat and poultry processing workers and employers.
Tyson Fresh Meats also said it voluntarily idled its pork facilities in Waterloo and Perry, Iowa, and in Logansport, Indiana, as well as its beef facility in Pasco, Washington, while workers undergo screening and the plants complete deep cleaning of the facilities.
The company said its other meat and poultry plants currently continue to operate, but some are running at significantly reduced levels of production due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions.