Processing Magazine

Colorado beef packers to lose jobs

December 28, 2004
The Associated Press reports that approximately 800 workers at the Swift & Co. meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado will lose their jobs on December 20, 11 days before the expiration of a contract that had Swift processing cattle from three ConAgra Foods Inc. feedlots. ConAgra, one of the nation''s largest food companies, sold the lots earlier this year to Smithfield Foods Co. of Smithfield, Va. Swift, the largest employer in Greeley, anticipated 1,100 layoffs when it first announced changes to its meat production two months ago. Still, the layoffs will be one of the worst hits to Greeley''s labor market in two decades. Some employees could be rehired within 18 months, based on their union contract. Up to 200 employees may be retained based on seniority to train employees working a new second shift at the plant that will produce new value-added meat products. The layoffs could be lessened if the new products sell well in international markets, which are slowly opening up after mad cow disease was found in the United States last year. Japan and Korea, major markets for American beef, are still closed because of disease inspections.