GREELEY, COLO. – JBS USA announced on April 20 that its pork processing plant in Worthington, Minn., will close indefinitely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The company said the facility will wind down operations over the next two days with a reduced staff to ensure existing product in the facility can be used in the food supply. The Worthington facility typically processes 20,000 hogs per day and employs 2,000 people in Nobles County, Minn.
“We don’t make this decision lightly,” said Bob Krebs, president of JBS USA Pork. “We recognize JBS Worthington is critical to local hog producers, the US food supply and the many businesses that support the facility each and every day.”
According to a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune on April 17, 19 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed at the plant.
JBS said it is working in partnership with the state of Minnesota and Nobles County and is advising its Worthington employees to follow the stay-at-home order of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz until it is safe to return to work. The company will continue to pay workers during the plant closure.
“As we all learn more about coronavirus, it is clear that the disease is far more widespread across the US and in our county than official estimates indicate based on limited testing,” Krebs said. “We have taken aggressive actions to keep coronavirus out of our plant and keep this critical infrastructure facility operational. It is our hope that Governor Walz’s effort to implement more widespread community testing will help all of us better understand the measures we must all take to stop its potential spread.”
On April 14, JBS temporary closed its beef processing facility in Greeley, Colo., until April 24. The company also closed its Souderton, Pa., beef production facility during the pandemic.
JBS USA operates more than 60 meat, poultry and prepared foods facilities across the United States.