In a statement, North American Lead, Jon Nash says it will allow them to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and continue to follow health department regulations.
Nash says they've also implemented other measures such as temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering staggered breaks and shift flexibility.
Cargill released a statement Monday afternoon:
Statement attributable to Jon Nash, Cargill Protein – North America Lead
“As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of Cargill employees, we have decided to temporarily reduce shifts at our High River protein plant. This will allow us to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and continue follow health department guidelines. This was a difficult decision for our team, but our values are guiding our actions.
We want our employees and the community to know we care. We’ve taken extra steps to focus on safety and remain operational – including temporary wage increases, bonuses and waiving co-pays for COVID-19 testing. We also implemented additional safety measures like temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering staggered breaks and shift flexibility. Our facility will be back to operating at full capacity as soon as is it is safe to do so.
Every person affected is a valued member of our team. Our employees are working hard to keep food on tables in local communities. While this location is working at reduced capacity and we adapt to operating during a pandemic, our work doesn’t stop. Cargill provides an essential service to the world—providing the ingredients, feed and food that nourishes people and animals. We are working with farmers and ranchers, our customers and our employees to supply food in this time of crisis and keep markets moving.”
Brian Perillat, the Senior Market Analyst at Canfax says Cargill’s operations are key for Western Canadian beef processing.
“So now, we’re kind of faced with a situation where we have so much livestock that's market-ready but nowhere to go get processed. That’s definitely becoming a concern for all aspects of the supply chain right from producers to consumers at this point.”
Cargill’s High River plant is idling about half their line and going down to about one shift a day.
He notes one of the things they are doing now to that is going to affect this market is their basically going to be killing fed cattle, so we’re seeing a pretty drastic drop in cull cow prices.
In a post on the United Food and Commercial Workers, Union Facebook page Local 401 President Thomas Hesse says there are at least 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a single food processing plant in Alberta while only days ago there were five.
Hesse’s post does not single out which facility the cases were found.
Meantime, processing backlogs have already been an issue for Eastern Canada for months due to plant closures and a lack of processing.
Beef Farmers of Ontario have been encouraging beef and dairy producers there to hold cull cows back if possible.
Another temporary closure for a slaughter facility south of the border.
JBS USA announced on Monday the temporary closure of its Greeley beef production facility in Colorado until April 24th.
The company is focusing its efforts and is implementing a number of measures to help with the fight against Coronavirus.
The facility is the largest employer in Weld County with more than 6,000 people and will wind down its operations over the next two days.
Weld County, which is where the plant is located is currently experiencing a growing outbreak of COVID-19, with nearly 740 cases to date.
JBS USA operates more than 60 meat, poultry and prepared foods facilities across the United States.