Smithfield Foods to Close 35 Hog Farms in Missouri, Resulting in 92 Layoffs Amidst Meat Industry Challenges
Smithfield Foods, recognized as the largest global pork processor, is set to permanently shut down 35 hog farm facilities located in Missouri. This move, slated for October, will result in the unfortunate layoff of 92 employees, as indicated by a notice submitted under the Missouri Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
The closure of these hog farms is attributed to a strategic decision made by Murphy-Brown LLC, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, which aims to scale down its hog farming operations across the state. Consequently, a proportionate reduction in workforce is necessary, impacting both salaried and hourly workers within the company.
The decision to reduce operations comes in the wake of challenges faced by the U.S. meat industry. Declining profitability and decreased consumer demand, stemming from economic pressures such as inflation and rising interest rates, have made it increasingly difficult for meat companies to accurately forecast their product demand.
The official notification, dated August 2 and addressed to the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, identifies a total of 35 hog farm operation sites affected by the closures. These include 13 sites in Newtown, Missouri, 12 in Lucerne, Missouri, and 10 in Princeton, Missouri.
A spokesperson from Smithfield confirmed that these layoffs pertain specifically to the Missouri-based hog production operations. The scheduled date for the layoffs is October 8, with the notification also clarifying that the impacted employees have been given the option to relocate to other company facilities, provided there are suitable positions available that do not displace existing employees.
Smithfield Foods, under the ownership of Hong Kong’s WH Group, faces these operational changes as part of a broader industry trend. In a related development, Tyson Foods also announced the closure of four chicken plants across states like Arkansas, Indiana, and Missouri, citing cost-cutting measures. This move has significant implications for the local communities that heavily rely on Tyson for around 3,000 jobs.
In addition, Tyson reported a significant drop in average pork prices by 16.4% during the quarter ending on July 1, accompanied by a 1.8% reduction in pork sales volumes. This demonstrates the ongoing challenges faced by the meat industry in maintaining stability and profitability. As these developments unfold, the industry remains focused on adapting to evolving market dynamics. The reporting was conducted by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago, with additional contributions from Tom Polansek. The editing of the report was handled by Andrea Ricci and Jamie Freed.