Smithfield to close California processing plant
Smithfield Foods says it’s closing its only California hog processing plant due to the rising cost of doing business in the state. Smithfield vice president of corporate affairs Jim Monroe tells Brownfield, “Certainly, higher taxes, utility costs including electricity, natural gas, water, etc., again significantly higher per-head cost in California than other Smithfield locations.”
AAnd, he says California’s regulatory climate was also something Smithfield took into consideration. “Prop 12 introduced by animal rights activists in California is a good example of the regulatory climate there that I think introduces some unique challenges in terms of doing business in California.”
Monroe says the closure will not impact product availability for west coast consumers. “It does not change a thing about our commitment to our customers in California. We’ll continue to service them with the same Farmer John brand that they’ve grown to love. We’ll just be doing it from different locations in the Midwest.”
Smithfield will also close a handful of company-owned farms in California and Arizona, as well as scale back some farm operations in Utah.
Smithfield plans to close the Vernon plant in early 2023. Monroe says the company is working with employees on their transition support, severance pay, and transfer opportunities to other company facilities.