Coronavirus Causes Minnesota Meat Plant to Shut Down

Rachel Weber

On Monday April 20 the JBS SA meat plant located in Minnesota shut their doors due to a Coronavirus outbreak among workers, springing a new concern regarding possible meat shortages.

According to the TwinCities Pioneer Press Pork processor JBS USA announced the closure of its Worthington plant in southwestern Minnesota on Monday April 20 following a coronavirus outbreak in the facility.

The TwinCities Pioneer Press said Nobles County, where the meatpacking plant is located, had 77 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Monday April 20.

According to the TwinCities Pioneer Press the JBS USA Pork president Bob Krebs made a statement on a news release, “We don’t make this decision lightly…We recognize JBS Worthington is critical to local hog producers, the U.S. food supply and the many businesses that support the facility each and every day.”

The TwinCities Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota governor Tim Walz said, “The state of Minnesota did not shut down JBS. JBS’s leadership did not shut down JBS. The virus shut down JBS.”

According to Startribune JBS SA will continue to pay workers during the plant’s closure. 

The Startribune said that on Monday April 20 Minnetonka-based Cargill also closed its beef plant in High River after health authorities said several hundred workers tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the TwinCities Pioneer Press Minnesota Department of Health  Commissioner Jan Malcolm said every employee “will be able to get tested.” She called on community leaders in the area to encourage workers to do so.

According to the TwinCities Pioneer Press the state labor, health and agriculture departments are developing guidelines to keep meatpackers operating safely during the pandemic.

According to Bloomberg, around 25% of American pork production and 10% of beef output has now been shuttered nationwide.

The United Food & Commercial Workers said an estimated 13 U.S. plants have seen closures.

According to Bloomberg, 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have tested positive for the coronavirus. The workers have been traveling between plants with confirmed infections to other facilities.

Bloomberg said at least one inspector has died due to the coronavirus.

The U.S. wholesale beef hit the highest on record according to Bloomberg. Pork belly prices soared 137% in the five days.

According to Bloomberg chief executive officer of Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems Inc Peter Cancro said, “What people don’t realize is in the coming months, that’s going to be one the biggest issues out there is getting the meats and provisions, for not only restaurants, I hate to say it, but grocery stores as well.”