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Tyson Foods pork processing plant.
Another closure of a Tyson processing plant will impact the community of Perry, Iowa where the meat packing giant has been the primary employer.

Tyson Foods shutters another processing plant in Iowa

PERRY, IA – Tyson Foods has announced they will close its pork plant in Perry at the end of June, putting 1,276 employees out of work and leaving as many as 6,000 pork producers finding another source to harvest their animals.

Across Iowa, Tyson employs 9,000 people. A significant number of its employees are immigrants or refugees, with 60% of its national workforce representing those two categories, according to Jobs for the Future.

According to a Tyson press release, “After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close our Perry, Iowa pork facility. We understand the impact this has on our team members and the local community. Taking care of our team members is our top priority and we encourage them to apply for other open roles within the company.”

The statement continued, “We are also working closely with state and local officials to provide additional resources to those who are impacted. While this decision was not easy, it emphasizes our focus to optimize the efficiency of our operations to best serve our customers.”

Tyson didn’t say why the Perry plant is closing. But two things stand out about the plant: its age, at 61 years for the main facility, and, according to an industry analyst, its size, which doesn’t lend itself to an efficiency-increasing second shift.

South Dakota Leads the Way in Sustainable Pig and Pork Production

Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO Pat McGonegle told DTN this is a very disappointing decision and will impact the 6,000 pork farms in the state, which markets 45 to 47 million head annually. The Perry plant kills 9,000 hogs each day.

“This will have a huge impact on the producers in the geographical area right around Perry. This has been a longstanding place to send hogs, and this will be hard on those producers,” McGonegle said.

At the same time, Iowa’s nation-leading pork industry is coming off its worst downturn in the past 25 years, and Tyson at the end of fiscal 2023 said it had lost $128 million on its pork segment.

Tyson didn’t announce any other closures in March, but Perry isn’t the first plant to close recently. Plants in Jacksonville, Florida, and Columbia, South Carolina, closed at the start of 2024. Six Tyson plants closed in 2023.

The broader meat category is contending with a challenging environment as consumer demand has softened because of high prices. Companies such as Tyson, Smithfield Foods and JBS Foods have offset losses by cutting costs within their operations.

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