RANTOUL, ILL. – Belleville, Ill.-based Meadowbrook Farms, which recently laid off 600 employees at its pork processing plant in Rantoul, is one of six other companies in close proximity that have recently either closed or announced layoffs, according to the Kankakee Daily Journal.

The layoffs are the result of a Chicago-based food distributor defaulting on a multi-million dollar contract with Meadowbrook, said a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Timothy Johnson. Mr. Johnson is attempting to secure a U.S. Department of Agriculture "bridge loan" for Meadowbrook to allow it to restore production.

Meadowbrook, which is owned by about 200 farmers and pork producers, is a farm cooperative. Opening for business in mid-2004, the plant’s capacity is 3,600 hogs a day, which equates to 150 million lbs. of pork annually.

To post your comments on this story, click here: meatpoultry@sosland.com.