Smithfield Packing Company has announced plans to shift production from its facility in Bedford, Virginia, to other plants as part of its restructuring of East Coast pork processing operations. The company will phase out its Bedford operations, beginning August 17, 2006, and shift production to newer, more efficient plants. The move will affect the facility's 139 employees.



"This is another difficult but necessary decision for our company to streamline our processed meat operations and lower our operating costs," said Joseph W. Luter IV, president of Smithfield Packing Co. "We know that this will create adversity for the employees affected and we will be providing assistance to them to find future employment."



Smithfield Packing will follow all required procedures as outlined in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), including providing a 60-day notification of the plant closure to employees or their bargaining representative. Under terms of the WARN Act, Smithfield Packing will notify state dislocated worker units so that they can promptly offer dislocated worker assistance. WARN Act notices, where appropriate, are being issued today. Furthermore, the company will consider transferring qualified management employees based on knowledge, skills, performance and job availability.



Mr. Luter said that the company will work with the U.S. Department of Labor to sponsor a job fair; coordinate with local unemployment offices to assist employees with claims or job applications; and partner with local trade and educational institutions to provide job skill training and educational opportunities.



"After a thorough analysis of all our production facilities and product needs, we decided to discontinue operations in the Bedford plant. The facility is one of our smaller plants and is in need of significant renovation to meet our standards," said Jere Null, executive vice president of Smithfield Packing. "This move improves our competitive position and will not affect our ability to provide our customers with products we have produced in this facility."



SOURCE Smithfield Packing Company