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JBS USA Announces Limited Reopening of Worthington Pork Facility To Assist Producers

April 29, 2020

Company to Retool Operations to Humanely Euthanize Hogs

Today, JBS USA announced a limited reopening of the Worthington, Minn., pork production facility to provide producers with a humane euthanasia option for market hogs during the coronavirus pandemic. Recent U.S. pork plant closures and reduced production levels at pork processing facilities across the country have left American producers with few options for market-ready hogs. Humane depopulation and proper disposal is the unfortunate last resort for some producers.

“While our focus is on getting the Worthington facility back to work on behalf of our team members producing food for the nation, we believe we have a responsibility to step up when our producer partners are in need,” said Bob Krebs, President of JBS USA Pork. “We commend U.S. Representative Collin Peterson, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, and USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach for their leadership and partnership in helping make this option available to our community and our producers during these difficult times.”

Under the limited reopening, a reduced staff of approximately 10 to 20 team members will facilitate and manage the humane euthanasia process in partnership with federal, state and local veterinary officials. The company anticipates that approximately 13,000 hogs could be euthanized per day. Hog carcasses will be rendered, sent to landfills, composted or buried.

“None of us want to euthanize hogs, but our producers are facing a terrible, unprecedented situation,” Krebs said. “We will do everything in our power to work with the state of Minnesota to responsibly reopen our facility as soon as possible in support of producers who desperately require a more viable option for their hogs.”

The JBS Worthington pork production facility voluntarily suspended operations on April 20 in an effort to combat the community spread of coronavirus in Nobles County. The facility employs more than 2,000 team members and processes 20,000 hogs per day. The company’s remaining team members will continue to adhere to the governor’s stay at home order until normal operations can resume. The company continues to pay its team members during the plant closure.

Since the onset of the pandemic, JBS Worthington has focused on providing a safe working environment for its team members providing food for the nation. The company’s aggressive actions meet and exceed the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. JBS Worthington has implemented preventive measures to keep coronavirus out of its facility and maintain operations during the crisis, including:

  • Temperature testing all team members prior to entering facilities, including the use of hands-free thermometers and thermal imaging testing technology;
  • Providing extra personal protective equipment (PPE) to all team members, including protective masks, which are required to be worn at all times;
  • Promoting physical distancing where possible by staggering starts, shifts and breaks; increasing spacing in cafeterias, break and locker rooms; and erecting physical barriers, including plexiglass dividers in key production areas;
  • Increasing sanitation and disinfection efforts, including whole facility deep-cleaning every day;
  • Hiring dedicated staff whose only job is to continuously clean the facility, including common areas beyond the production floor;
  • Removing vulnerable populations, offering full pay and benefits;
  • Requiring sick team members to stay home from work;
  • Waiving short-term disability waiting periods;
  • Relaxing attendance policies so people don’t come to work sick;
  • Providing free 100% preventive care to all team members enrolled in the company’s health plan;
  • Offering free LiveHealth Online services, which allow for virtual doctor visits at no cost, for team members enrolled in the company’s health plan;
  • Educating and encouraging team members to practice social distancing at home and in the community outside of work; and
  • Restricting access to facilities and not allowing visitors.

JBS USA operates more than 60 meat, poultry and prepared foods facilities across the United States. The Worthington pork production facility remains closed for pork production and is one of four JBS USA facilities that have temporarily closed to combat community spread of coronavirus. The JBS Green Bay, Wis., beef production facility remains closed, while the Souderton, Pa., beef production facility and the Greeley, Colo., beef production facility have reopened.