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Meat Processing

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Meat-packing giant Smithfield Foods says it will close its only California plant next year, citing the escalating cost of doing business in the state. The Farmer John meat-packing plant in an industrial suburb south of Los Angeles is expected to shut in February. Its 1,800 workers will get severance pay, and some will have the option of relocating to other facilities owned by the Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc. A Smithfield executive says the costs of taxes, water and other utilities are much higher in California than elsewhere. Some operations will be moved to the Midwest.

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Meatpacking giant JBS has agreed to a $52.5 million settlement in a beef price-fixing lawsuit that some say supports their concerns about how the lack of competition in the industry affects prices

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Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms agreed to the settlements last week without admitting any wrongdoing while the lawsuit remains pending against several other industry giants, including Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Foods and Sanderson Farms.

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“We are seeing an increase in the number of positive (test) rates like you're seeing in the surrounding communities,” said Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing officer at Ford Motor Co., which has about 56,000 hourly factory workers nationwide.

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Some states are providing more money to help pay for food that might otherwise go to waste, the USDA is spending $3 billion to help get farm products to food banks and a senator is seeking $8 billion more to buy farm produce for food banks.

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