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April 15, 2020, 9:32 p.m. EDT

Smithfield to shut 2 more pork plants because of coronavirus

Employees at 3 plants have tested positive for COVID-19

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By Jacob Bunge

Associated Press
The Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., was shut Sunday.

Smithfield Foods Inc. said it would close two more pork-processing plants because of the coronavirus pandemic, reducing meat supplies for grocery stores and deepening challenges for farmers.

The top U.S. pork processor said it would close plants in Wisconsin and Missouri later this week, after announcing Sunday the shutdown of its Sioux Falls, S.D., plant, one of the industry’s biggest. Smithfield said that employees at all three plants have tested positive for the coronavirus and that the Missouri plant needed pork supplies from the South Dakota facility to operate.

“Our country is blessed with abundant livestock supplies, but our processing facilities are the bottleneck of our food chain,” said Smithfield Chief Executive Kenneth Sullivan. “For the security of our nation, I cannot understate how critical it is for our industry to continue to operate unabated.”

Since the start of the month, beef, chicken and pork plants have closed across the country after hundreds of workers contracted the coronavirus and hundreds more stayed at home for fear of catching it. The close quarters on meat-processing lines have made some meat plants COVID-19 hot spots.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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