New York, 22 – Tyson Foods will indefinitely suspend operations at its largest pig processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the company said on Wednesday. The factory already operated at reduced levels of production, the company said. At the same time, the company will resume operations at a pig factory in Columbus Junction, in the same state, after two weeks of inactivity due to the disease.
In the first case, in Waterloo, Tyson said the operations were hampered by the absence of a large part of the workers, who were on leave because of the coronavirus. The next step will be to carry out tests on the 2,800 employees of the plant, who will continue to receive their wages while the plant is closed.
“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, as the plant is part of a larger supply chain, which includes hundreds of farmers, truck drivers, distributors and independent customers, including grocery stores,” said CEO Steve Stouffer in a statement. “This means the loss of a vital exit from the market for farmers and contributes even more to the interruption of the country’s pork supply”, he reinforced.
In Columbus Junction, where the factory produces fresh, packaged pigs for food service and retail customers worldwide, activities will resume this week.
“We plan to increase production at Columbus Junction gradually, with the safety of our team members in mind,” said Tyson Foods President Dean Banks. The company is placing more than 150 infrared temperature scanners at its facilities, in addition to workstation dividers to promote social distance.
Tyson Foods’ other meat and poultry factories continue to operate, with some working at reduced production levels, due to the implementation of additional safety precautions. The company suspended production for a day in some locations for additional deep cleaning and sanitization.