Packers, Grain Elevators Close During Extreme Cold

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The dangerous cold temperatures that blanketed the Midwest this week also impacted meat processors and grain elevator operations, as companies worked to protect employees.

Wednesday, Tyson Foods canceled two shifts at their Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant. Hormel Foods Corp. stopped hog slaughter at its Austin, Minn., processing plant, Reuters reported Thursday.

A spokesperson for Hormel told Reuters the Minnesota processor, Quality Pork Processors, Inc., was not operating Wednesday and would start late on Thursday.

Temperatures plunged to as low as minus 42°F, creating hazardous conditions for workers, as well as for animals and equipment involved in transportation.

The change in operations and severe cold also affected prices in recent days, as the CME Group’s index of the U.S. cash hog market was trading at a two-week low of 57.89 cwt.

The two pork plants have capacity to kill about 20,000 hogs per day. USDA estimated U.S. hog slaughter on Wednesday at 261,000 compared with 466,000 hogs a week ago and 464,000 the same day a year ago.

Grain Elevators Also Feel the Cold Pinch 

Reuters also reports grain purchaser Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) closed their Toledo, Ohio, elevator on Wednesday. The facility will also be closed Thursday.

Cargill also closed all of its grain plants in the Midwest on Wednesday.

Two Iowa soybean processors operated by Cargill faced mechanical issues, preventing bean deliveries in Iowa Falls and Cedar Rapids, according to Reuters.