Meatpacking plants considered critical infrastructure good for the southwest Kansas economy

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FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – From the producer to the plants, and into the stores, the beef industry plays a large role in southwest Kansas. 

Already, many meatpacking plants have had to slow down production, and with 20% of beef processed in southwest Kansas, the economy has felt an impact.

“Keeping these meat packing plants is very, very critical,” said Congressman Roger Marshall. 

With the coronavirus, meatpacking plants have had to make adjustments and follow the social distancing guidelines, which has slowed down the processing lines.

“For three or four weeks, a lot of my feed yards have not been able to send any cattle to the processing plants that they’re down to work in about 50 to 40% capacity, some packing plants have had to close for a day or two so this is backing upstream now,” said Congressman Marshall. 

While there is a backup, officials said producers shouldn’t worry about any plant closures because they are taking the proper precautions.

“I think it’s safer to be working at a packing plant than it is to go into Walmart right now,” said Congressman Marshall.

“They’ve really taken a whole-plant approach to how they are protecting their employee base,” said Finney County Economic Development President Lona DuVall.

Congressman Marshall said a $19 million dollar package plan will be released in the next few weeks to help out local ranchers.

DuVall said they have been working with organizations to ensure workers can make it through the hard times.

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