Impact of Tyson Foods Plant Closure on Perry, Iowa: What We Know

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Written By Vikas Jangid

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Tyson Foods revealed on Monday, March 11, its decision to permanently shut down its pork packing facility located in Perry, Iowa, citing ongoing financial challenges within the pork industry. Here's what's currently known about the Tyson Foods plant situated in Perry.

Number of Jobs to be Lost as Tyson Shuts Down Operations in Perry

As the primary employer in Perry, Tyson currently employs 1,276 individuals. The closure is anticipated to render all staff members jobless. Tyson has stated that it will urge its employees to seek other positions within the company. Throughout Iowa, Tyson has a workforce of 9,000 individuals.

A considerable portion of its employees are immigrants or refugees, constituting 60% of its national workforce, according to Jobs for the Future.

Source: Twitter/FoodBev 

When will the Tyson plant close in Perry?

Perry Mayor Dirk Cavanaugh stated that officials from Tyson informed him that the plant would close down on June 28. Additionally, a Tyson employee confirmed that this timeline was communicated during a meeting on Monday when the closure plan was announced.

Tyson Food Plant
Source: AP News

Why is Tyson closing plants?

Tyson did not provide a reason for the closure of the Perry plant. However, two notable factors about the facility are its age, with the main facility being 61 years old, and its size.

which, according to an industry analyst, doesn't allow for an efficient second shift to increase productivity. Meanwhile, Iowa's pork industry, leading nationally, is recovering from its most severe downturn in the past 25 years. Tyson reported a loss of $128 million in its pork segment at the end of fiscal 2023.

In March, Tyson didn't disclose any additional closures, yet Perry isn't the only recent closure. Earlier in 2024, plants in Jacksonville, Florida, and Columbia, South Carolina, shut down. In 2023, Tyson closed six other plants.

Support for Tyson Employees Amid Closure of Perry Plant

Iowa Workforce Development will utilize its IowaWorks Mobile Workforce Center to assist the affected employees when they become jobless in June. Additionally, the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 307 in Des Moines has pledged to support the displaced workers, many of whom are Spanish speakers, in any way it can.

The pork processing facility is situated just west of the city limits, adjacent to a former railway line that has been repurposed as part of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.

How has the Tyson plant shaped Perry?

In addition to being the largest employer in the area and contributing over $200,000 annually in property taxes, the plant advertised starting pay for general production workers at $18.40 per hour by the end of 2022.

This included a sign-on bonus of $5,000, an extra $1 per hour for good attendance, and comprehensive benefits. Although slightly below the hourly average in Iowa, it's more than 2.5 times the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

While not all employees reside in town, they still support the local economy by purchasing groceries, gas, and other services there, according to Cavanaugh. He emphasized the plant's significance as the economic backbone of the community.

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