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Tyson to close two Iowa pork processing plants

Tyson Foods Inc. plans to close two Iowa plants this spring, laying off 400 workers according to a release today from the company. The company will, however, spend more than $30 million to expand bacon production at its Cherokee, Iowa plant late this summer.

The Independence and Oelwein, Iowa plants, which produce chopped ham and sliced luncheon meats, will close effective March 17.

"Given the age of these plants and capital improvements needed to supply our future product mix and customer needs, it's economically unfeasible to keep them open," said Bill Lovette, senior group vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods, who called the move "a tough decision."

The Independence facility covers 126,000 square feet and has been in operation for more than 50 years. The Oelwein facility covers 43,000 square feet and has been in operation for 40 years. The two plants and related property will be offered for sale.

Bacon production at the Cherokee plant will complement production at its existing bacon plants in Omaha, Nebraska and Vernon, Texas, the company said.

Ham production from the Cherokee plant will move to Concordia, Missouri, and Buffalo, New York.

The combined moves are an effort to generate annual pre-tax cost savings of approximately $15 to $20 million.

Tyson Foods Inc. plans to close two Iowa plants this spring, laying off 400 workers according to a release today from the company. The company will, however, spend more than $30 million to expand bacon production at its Cherokee, Iowa plant late this summer.

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