One of the country's largest pork processing plants is shutting down until further notice as employees have contracted the CCP virus, putting the U.S. meat supply at risk, according to the CEO of Smithfield, the operator.
"It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running," Sullivan added. "These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain."
The plant, which is located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, accounts for between 4 percent and 5 percent of the nation's pork production and employs some 3,700 workers, Smithfield said.
“Today I am sending a joint letter with the mayor to Smithfield’s president and CEO. We recommend in that letter that Smithfield operations suspend for a minimum of 14 days as soon as possible to protect the employees, families, the Sioux Falls community and the people of South Dakota. This isolation period is consistent with what we understand as the incubation period of COVID-19,” Noem said.
Smithfield has been running its facilities to supply American consumers during the outbreak, Sullivan said.
“We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19,” he added.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are now ubiquitous across our country. The virus is afflicting communities everywhere. The agriculture and food sectors have not been immune. Numerous plants across the country have COVID-19 positive employees. We have continued to run our facilities for one reason: to sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic. We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever."