Blizzard conditions force some meat processors to close plants.
A major winter storm system forced some meat processors to close plants.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods Inc. said winter weather is forcing changes to meat production schedules at several of the companies processing plants.

“Three of our six pork plants are not operating today due to weather-related road conditions and one other plant will operate only one shift of production,” Worth Sparkman, a Tyson spokesman, told MEAT+POULTRY. “The affected plants are in Iowa and Nebraska.

“One of our beef plants will not operate today and two others are currently expected to run at reduced hours. The plants are in Nebraska and Kansas.”

The National Weather Service forecasted a major storm over the Central Plains. Blizzard warnings are in effect for portions of the region and into the western part of the upper Midwest. The Nebraska Department of Roads pulled snowplows off of state highways in some areas due to extremely low visibility. “Blowing and drifting snow is making the roads impassable,” the agency said in an advisory. “This is a life threatening storm. Travel is not advised.”

Mike Martin, director of communications for Cargill, said “Our beef harvest/processing facility at Schuyler, Nebraska, is closed today due to winter weather conditions that are making roadways unsafe for employees and livestock transportation.”

The winter storm was forecast to dump up to 6 inches of snow in Des Moines, Iowa. In Kansas, portions of I-70 and other roads were closed west of Salina, Kansas, near the Colorado border, according to the Kansas Dept. of Transportation. Roads in northwest Kansas were snow-packed and icy. Wind gusts of 45 to 50 mph are forecast for northwest Kansas.