South St. Paul Beef Plant Temporarily Closing, 300 Jobs Affected

Updated: 07/02/2014 10:24 PM
Created: 07/02/2014 9:24 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

These days, you won't find any cattle inside Dakota Premium Foods in South St. Paul, and that's the problem. Parent company American Foods Group released a statement Wednesday saying the plant is temporarily closing because of an "extremely short cattle supply." It'll affect roughly 300 employees.

"It's a business after all, and they have to do what they have to do," said University of Minnesota Animal Science Professor Alfredo DiCostanzo. He says the lack of cattle is partially due to a lack of rain.

"The drought made it expensive to keep them, and so we eliminated many many cows from '09 to about '13," he explained.

In other words, too many cows were sold for too many years without being replaced. Even though the drought hit other parts of the country harder than Minnesota, we're feeling the effect too.

So the question is, when will Dakota Premium Foods and other plants like it reopen? Truth is, we don't know.

"It's a tough thing to say," said DiConstanzo. "I think it really will depend on how quick we correct some of the supply issues, and that may take a little while."

State legislators are weighing in on this too. DFL Representatives Dan Schoen and Rick Hansen and Senators Katie Sieben and Jim Metzen issued a joint press release saying in part, "we will be following up with company officials and local leaders to find any possible solutions for the workers who are impacted by this closure."

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