VERNON, Calif. — Meat-packing big Smithfield Meals mentioned Friday it should shut its solely California plant subsequent 12 months, citing the escalating price of doing enterprise within the state.

The Farmer John meat-packing plant in Vernon, an industrial suburb south of Los Angeles, will shut down in February, with its 1,800 workers receiving severance and job placement assist together with bonuses for many who select to remain on the job till the closure, mentioned Jim Monroe, vice chairman of company affairs.

Some staff, who on common earn about $21 per hour, additionally may have alternatives to relocate to different amenities owned by the Virginia-based Smithfield Meals Inc.

The Vernon plant slaughters pigs and packages merchandise reminiscent of ham and bacon. Some operations might be moved to different amenities within the Midwest, however the total discount in processing capability is prompting Smithfield to scale back its sow herd in Utah. The corporate additionally mentioned it’s exploring methods to exit its farms in California and Arizona.

Monroe mentioned working prices in California are a lot larger than in different areas of the nation, together with taxes and the value of water, electrical energy and pure fuel.

“Our utility prices in California are 3 1/2 occasions larger per head than our different areas the place they do the identical sort of labor,” he mentioned.

The shutdown is just not anticipated to scale back provide or enhance prices on merchandise, and Farmer John Merchandise will nonetheless be bought in California, Monroe mentioned.

“There received’t be any affect on our prospects,” he mentioned.

The Vernon plant has been the goal of repeated protests by animal rights activists over its remedy of hogs. It additionally was hard-hit through the COVID-19 pandemic, with some 300 workers uncovered to infections in 2020. A number of have been hospitalized.

California’s Division of Occupational Security and Well being fined Smithfield Meals about $60,000 for security violations that uncovered staff to an infection.

Smithfield Meals was based in Smithfield, Virginia, in 1936 and in response to its web site supplies greater than 40,000 jobs in the US. It was acquired in 2013 by Hong Kong-based WH Group.

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