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Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon to close in 2023 due to escalating costs

Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon to close in 2023
Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon to close in 2023 02:54

A longtime staple of the Los Angeles community will close its doors next year, citing escalating costs to operate. 

The Farmer John meatpacking plant, located in Vernon for more than 90 years, is expected to cease all operations in the early part of 2023 as the parent company, Smithfield Foods, Inc., plans to move most of their business located on the West Coast to different regions.

"Smithfield is taking these steps due to the escalating cost of doing business in California," a statement released early Friday morning said. 

They said that customers on the West Coast would still receive services and product from their operations located in the Midwest, as they also look for "strategic options to exit its farms in Arizona and California," as well as decreasing their sow herd in Utah. 

All employees impacted by the decision will be provided relocation options to existing operations, as well as incentives for their retention to ensure business continues as normal until the doors close in 2023. 

"We are grateful to our team members in the Western region for their dedication and invaluable contributions to our mission. We are committed to providing financial and other transition assistance to employees impacted by this difficult decision," said Smithfield Chief Operating Officer Brady Stewart.

Prior to announcing the closure, company officials reached an agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Union of Operating Engineers as part of its plan to close the Vernon facility.

"Despite a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with Farmer John employees and their union, Smithfield has decided to exit operations in California. A fair agreement that compensates their workers until next year has been reached, and we hope that another operator will take advantage of the highly trained and stable workforce that makes the Farmer John plant a productive and profitable part of Vernon's packing infrastructure," said UFCW 770 President John Grant.

Farmer John was acquired by Smithfield Foods in 2017. 

The plant, famously painted with scenes of farm life, has been a popular location for animal rights activist protests in the past.

Notably, Farmer John also provided the Los Angeles Dodgers with their fan favorite ballpark treat -- The Dodger Dog -- beginning in 1958 when the team relocated from Brooklyn. The deal came to an end in 2019 after the two parties were unable to agree to terms on a new contract.

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