GARNER, NC. — Butterball LLC announced that 450 employees would be laid off from its Carthage, Mo., turkey processing plant starting in March 2021. The facility currently employs about 850 workers.

The company said that “long-term adverse conditions in the commodities market, where Butterball has routinely sold excess protein produced at the facility, has resulted in the need to ramp down certain production processes at this location.”

Butterball said 400 of the 450 people impacted by the layoffs are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 2. The company said it worked with UFCW to address the operational changes. 

“We are making every effort to provide support to our team members during a challenging time by providing a variety of paths to lessen the impact, including the opportunity to relocate to other Butterball facilities and severance packages,” said Jay Jandrain, president and chief executive officer of Butterball. “In spite of the ongoing market pressures that led to this decision, it was important to our leadership team that we find ways to carry our team members and their families through the holidays and provide continued employment through at least March of 2021.” 

According to a report in the Joplin Globe, Butterball is encouraging laid-off workers to apply for job openings at its Huntsville, Ark., and Ozark, Ark., plants. 

The company said the Carthage facility will still produce ground turkey and turkey burgers. It also stated that the decision will impact a limited number of Midwest turkey growers and does not anticipate reducing Carthage-area growers right now.

“The announcement in no way reflects the hard work and dedication of the company’s team members, nor is it a reaction to the recent global healthcare crisis,” Butterball said. “The company is in the process of notifying all parties impacted by this change and will fulfill contractual obligations with all its partners.”