Minnesota pork plant may close soon, cost 1,000 jobs – Austin Daily Herald

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Pork plant in Minnesota likely to close soon, costing 1,000 jobs

Posted at 8:39 PM on Friday, April 14, 2023

WINDOM – The owners of a pork processing plant in southern Minnesota said more than 1,000 people are at risk of losing their jobs if a new owner for the plant is not found soon.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that HyLife Foods filed notice with the state this week that its efforts to improve business at its Windom plant were unsuccessful.

In a memo to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, HyLife said it faced challenges from inflation, rising grain costs, foreign exchange rates and plant operating losses.

“For some time now, the company has been exploring various strategic options that would have enabled it to continue operations despite these financial challenges. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful so far.

Minnesota businessman Glenn Taylor and other investors purchased the former beef packing plant in 2016. Canada-based HyLife Corporation purchased 75% ownership of the plant from Taylor Corp. and headquartered in Mankato, in 2020.

Glenn Taylor, who owns the Minneapolis Star Tribune, sold his remaining ownership of the pork plant earlier this year.

The Windom plant can process 1.2 million pigs annually – about a third of HyLife’s processing capacity.

“Our vision, investment, and strong community engagement is a testament that we intend to be here for the long haul,” HyLife CEO Grant Lazaruk said in a statement Tuesday. “This is a very difficult week, and we are undeniably sad. We are doing everything we can to share the information we currently have.”

The company said 1,007,000 workers would be laid off if the factory closed. Like many of the processing plants in rural Minnesota, immigrants make up a large portion of the workforce. None of them represent a union.

Layoffs can begin on Monday and end as late as June 2.

Pork producers are facing pressure from falling pork prices at the same time that feed and energy costs have increased.

On March 1, the country had 72.9 million pigs — up slightly from the previous year, according to the USDA quarterly report. Almost a decade ago, the number of pigs in the country was 10 million fewer.

Minnesota is second only to Iowa in pork production in the United States

“Those pigs are in those barns? (Farmers) have to figure out where they’re going to take them,” said Ted Winter, a Nobles County farmer and executive committee member of the Minnesota Farmers’ Union.