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    Smithfield Foods Restructures Pork Group

    The company is consolidating several business units, with six plants slated to close.

    As part of an ongoing restructuring plan that will consolidate and streamline its corporate structure and pork group manufacturing operations, Smithfield Foods, Inc. is reorganizing and consolidating several business units, among which includes:

    --John Morrell & Co. and Farmland Foods, Inc., which will merge their respective fresh pork sales groups. Some members of the John Morrell sales group will be offered positions at Farmland Foods in Kansas City, Mo. or elsewhere within the Smithfield Foods organization.

    --Patrick Cudahy, Inc. will become part of the John Morrell Group; plant employees will not be affected at this time.

    --Carando Foods, currently a unit of Farmland Foods, also will become part of the John Morrell Group; employees will not be affected at this time.

    --North Side Foods Corp. will become a part of Farmland Foods; plant employees will not be affected at this time.

    --Cumberland Gap Provision Co., a unit of the John Morrell Group, will become part of The Smithfield Packing Co., Inc. Production from other Smithfield Packing facilities will be transferred to Cumberland Gap, and employment there is expected to increase over time.

    Smithfield Foods will also close six plants and transfer production to other facilities as indicated below, and wherever possible, offer transfers to other company facilities to an as-yet-undetermined number of employees:

    --The Smithfield Packing Co. South facility in Smithfield, Va., will be closed. Case-ready fresh pork production will be moved to the adjacent Smithfield North plant and a North Carolina facility, creating significant operating efficiencies, according to the company. Of the 1,375 Smithfield South employees, 1,035 will be offered transfers, 745 will be offered transfers to move to Smithfield North, and the others will have the opportunity to move to Smithfield Packing Co. plants in North Carolina.

    --A Plant City, Fla., facility producing packaged meats will close in September, affecting 760 Smithfield Packing Co. employees. A number of salaried employees will be offered transfers.

    --The Smithfield Packing Co. plant in Elon, N.C., will close in late summer, and country ham production there will cease. About 160 employees will be affected.

    --A John Morrell plant that processes fresh pork and smoked meats in Great Bend, Kan., with 275 employees, will close in July.

    --Farmland Foods will close its New Riegel, Ohio, plant in April and shift its spiral ham production to other facilities. About 230 employees will be affected.

    --An Armour-Eckrich Meats, LLC packaged meats plant in Hastings, Neb., will close in July, affecting about 370 employees.

    "Layoffs and plant closings are difficult but necessary decisions," said C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's president and CEO. "We know that this will create adversity for the employees affected, and we will work with union officials and others to determine how we can provide assistance to our employees to find future employment."

    With sales of $12 billion, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods is the leading processor and marketer of fresh pork and packaged meats in the United States, as well as the largest producer of hogs.

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