Tyson Foods suspends operations at largest pork plant due to coronavirus outbreak

2,800 employees to get tested for COVID-19
Posted at 1:08 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 13:08:48-04

Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc., announced Wednesday that it plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant this week.

The facility, the company’s largest pork plant, has already been running at reduced levels of production due to worker absenteeism but will completely stop production mid-week until further notice.

The facility’s 2,800 team members will be invited to come to the plant later this week for COVID-19 testing.

“Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we’ve implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time,” said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats. “Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production."

The company says team members will continue to be compensated while the plant is closed. The timing of resumption of operations will depend on a variety of factors, including the outcome of team member testing for COVID-19.

“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers,” Stouffer said. “It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply.”

Tyson Foods’ other meat and poultry plants are still operational, but some are running at reduced levels of production either due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions or worker absenteeism.