John Morrell & Co.'s $100-million, 232,000-square-foot expansion to upgrade the aging Sioux Falls, S. D. plant won’t happen this year, and may be scrapped completely. "It's probably going to take another four to six months to figure this out," Dennis Treacy, Smithfield Foods vice president, told the Sioux Falls, Argus Leader.

Still, he said that Smithfield will continue to operate the Sioux Falls plant and that the facility will remain open "for the foreseeable future."

Treacy pointed to Smithfield’s string of acquisitions as reasons for the shift in the Morrell plans. He said some of those deals gave Smithfield additional meatpacking plants and excess production capacity. The processing that would have been handled in Sioux Falls could now be done at existing Premium Standard Farms plants in Missouri, North Carolina and elsewhere. Treacy said Smithfield executives "are taking a hard look at the whole system" and "trying to figure out what to do with those plants."

The Morrell expansion project was scheduled to start by late summer. It's possible that Smithfield would resume work on the original Sioux Falls expansion plan sometime next year, he said. But, it's also possible that the project would be scaled back or scrapped altogether.

Morrell employs about 3,200 people in Sioux Falls and long has been one of the city's largest companies, reports the Argus Leader.

Pork producers that the newspaper interviewed, said they hope Treacy is right about the eventual plant expansion. But many are skeptical. Some said they would have to haul his hogs to Worthington, Minn., or northwest Iowa if the Sioux Falls Morrell plant closed.

Source: Argus Leader