Out of an abundance of caution, Indiana Packers Corporation, a global pork supplier based in Delphi, Ind., has decided to temporarily suspend operations at its Delphi facility, as part of its ongoing health-and-safety assessments. This decision was made in light of the increasing number of positive tests of COVID-19 in neighboring communities and reports that Indiana is closing in on the expected peak of infections.
"Given the uncertainty so inherent with this pandemic," IPC President and Chief Operating Officer Russ Yearwood says, "we are committed to be as proactive as we possibly can so as to best ensure the health and safety of our team members. This short pause is part of the ongoing effort."
Over the past several months, IPC has implemented a number of CDC-recommended changes, including significant measures to maximize physical distancing, enhanced daily cleaning and sanitization, and team member screenings/temperature checks at the start of each work shift. While those steps were effective, IPC, like many other employers in the state, is not immune to the effects of the pandemic. To date, IPC has had a total of 15 confirmed positive cases.
IPC has determined that now is the appropriate time to temporarily curtail operations. The winding down will be conducted in phases over the coming several days. The temporary suspension is expected to last no longer than two weeks, during which affected employees will be paid. During this time, IPC plans to engage resources with expertise in infectious diseases, conduct further plant wide sanitization and continue implementation of the latest in CDC guidance and industry best practices.
IPC officials recognize the impact this temporary closure will have on the community, including important partners in the farming and agriculture industry. IPC intends to restart operations as soon as possible.
Josh Trenary, executive director of Indiana Pork says the voluntary shutdown, combined with the voluntary shutdown of the Tyson Foods plant in Logansport, "is a severe blow to pig farmers who may not have any other place to market their hogs."
"Indiana Pork recognizes the need for these plants to take special precautions to ensure worker safety. In the long run, if that's what it takes to make sure plant employees are safe and plants can continue to operate then it's all worth it. In the meantime though, these temporary shutdowns and other plant labor issues across the country are causing even more of a backup of pigs on farms. Severe backups can cause animal welfare issues that farmers may have to take drastic measures to resolve," Trenary says.
"Indiana farmers want access to markets and to continue to provide quality pork to consumers, but they need adequate packing capacity to do it. The decision to temporarily close Indiana Packers is a major detriment to pork farmers, especially in light of all other previous closures across the country. Worker safety must come first, and we know that that local and state health officials and Indiana Packers management are working quickly to get this important part of our pork industry up and running as soon as possible."