Smithfield Foods closing 35 hog farm sites in Missouri

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, is permanently closing 35 hog farm sites in Missouri and laying off 92 employees in October, according to a Missouri Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice.

Murphy-Brown LLC, a division of Smithfield Foods, is “reducing its hog farming operations” across the state and “must reduce its workforce accordingly,” the company said in the notice, which affects salaried and hourly workers.

The U.S. meat industry has struggled with declining profits and reduced demand from consumers squeezed by inflation and higher interest rates. Amid spiraling feed and labor costs, meat companies have struggled to predict demand for their products.

The notice to the state’s Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, dated Aug. 2, identified 35 hog farm operation sites. They included 13 sites in Newtown, Missouri; 12 in Lucerne, Missouri; and 10 in Princeton, Missouri.

The layoffs are “specific to our Missouri hog production (farm) operations,” a Smithfield spokesperson said on Monday.

The layoffs are slated for Oct. 8, according to the notice, which said all affected employees have been offered the opportunity to relocate to another company facility if a position is available that does not displace other employees.

Smithfield is owned by Hong Kong’s WH Group.

Neither Smithfield nor the WARN data identified which specific facilities are impacted in Lucerne, Princeton and Newtown, Missouri. Smithfield has sow farms located in northern and northwest Missouri.

News of the Smithfield layoffs came as Tyson Foods said on Monday it was shutting four more chicken plants in Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri to cut costs, a blow to small communities in the U.S. heartland that depend on the meatpacker for nearly 3,000 jobs.

Tyson also said that average prices for its pork fell by 16.4% in the quarter that ended on July 1, while pork sales volumes dropped 1.8%.