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National Beef plant closure could benefit Tyson Foods

Not that Tyson Foods needs the help, but the meat giant could see some benefit from the packing plant closure announced by National Beef on Friday (Jan. 31).

Kansas City-based National Beef said it will shutter production in its Brawley, Calif., beef plant on April 4, because of declining supply of fed cattle in the region.

Cattle supplies across the country continue to shrink from prolonged periods of drought that forced excess slaughter resulting in the smallest herd in more than 40 years.

The 1,300 workers at the Brawley plant will be offered assistance finding work in other National Beef facilities, all of which are located in the Midwest region, with the exceptions of one plant in Georgia and one in Pennsylvania.

“This was a very difficult decision for us to make because of the impact on our employees and suppliers,” CEO Tim Klein said. “We are optimistic about the long-term prospects for U.S. beef demand, and we will continue to focus on expanding our position as the industry leader in value-added beef products.”

Tyson Foods operates a beef plant in Pasco, Wash., that could benefit after the Brawley plant closes, according to Steve Kay, publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly. He said Tyson has the oldest brand recognition in the region and should be in position to pick up some market share in the Southern California market.

Tyson’s Pasco plant has been operating a four-day week since late last year because of the Country of Origin Labeling rule changes which curtailed the company’s sourcing of live cattle from Canada. Jim Lochner, chief operating officer for Tyson Foods, said Friday (Jan. 31) that Tyson is not having trouble sourcing live cattle near its packing facilities, all of which are located throughout the Midwest except Pacso, Wash.

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The Brawley closure follows on last year’s closure of Cargill’s Plainview, Texas, plant, which employed 2,000 people; San Angelo Packing’s San Angelo, Texas, beef plant; and Martin’s Abattoir and Wholesale Meats’ Godwin, N.C., beef plant.

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