A major beefpacker has announced a pair of upcoming facility shutdowns, but not due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cargill plans to temporarily idle its Dodge City, Kan., and Schuyler, Neb., facilities for scheduled maintenance on refrigeration systems. Both plants will be shut down for about a week; the Dodge City maintenance is scheduled to begin Feb. 4, the work in Schuyler will start March 18.

“We have been in communication with producers in advance of the idling to work with them to ship cattle to other facilities within our robust supply chain or make accommodations to process as many cattle before the maintenance work commences,” said Jarrod Gillig, supply chain lead for Cargill’s North American protein business. “We will continue to fulfill all customer orders and do not anticipate disruptions to their operations.”

According to a company release, employees will be paid during the idle time to comport with the collective bargaining agreements in place. Each facility will process all cattle on site before the idling takes place.

Plant shutdowns became a fixture of the industry — and a major problem — during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic as the virus ripped through populations of plant workers. Taken together, the shutdowns of various facilities created backlogs in the animal protein sector that took months to work through.

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