“It’s unfortunate:” Cargill to shut down Milwaukee beef harvest facility; 600 workers affected

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Cargill announced on Wednesday, July 30th that it will close its Milwaukee beef harvest facility, which employs approximately 600 people. The closure takes effect at the close of business, Friday, August 1st.

The closure of the facility results primarily from the tight cattle supply brought about by producers retaining cattle for herd expansion.  The ground beef plant at the site will remain open to meet customer needs, employing approximately 200 people.  Cargill’s six other U.S. beef harvest plants are unaffected.

Cargill purchased the beef harvest plant in 2001 and it has a processing capacity of 1,300 to 1,400 animals daily.

For the more than 600 people impacted at the plant, Cargill will be offering opportunities to fill positions at other company locations in the region. Those who relocate to positions at other Cargill facilities will receive assistance. For displaced employees, Cargill will provide support including a job fair in Milwaukee the week of August 4.

Additionally, these 600 workers will receive 60 days pay.

Cargill will continue to honor its community commitments in Milwaukee through the end of calendar year 2014. The company’s six remaining U.S. beef processing plants are located in California, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Pennsylvania.

During the shift change at Cargill, as workers clock out for the day -- they normally leave the stresses of work behind. But on Wednesday -- with many of them finding out they'll be out of a job in just two days, they walked away with more stress.

"This is crazy. There's going to be a lot of angry people. It's very big news. I was not aware of anything like this happening," Monicca McCarty said. McCarthy's significant other works at the facility.

McCarty says she's unsure if he's one of the 600 workers affected by the closure, but says she's definitely worried.

"We would definitely have a hard time paying our rent and we would definitely have a harder time taking care of our four children. I'm very saddened by it, and angry," McCarty said.

The closure of the beef harvest facility in Milwaukee comes after an 18-month analysis.

"It's unfortunate, sad and regrettable that we had to do this. We examined the situation very carefully. We looked at every way to keep the plant open and it's just not economically viable," Mike Martin with Cargill said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Wednesday he was made aware of the announcement on Wednesday. He says his top priority is making sure those people impacted will find work quickly.

"A lot of people, hourly people, who depend on them to support their families. Our concerns right now are moving very, very quickly on how we can work with those families to ensure they get jobs so they can continue to live in the city of Milwaukee and support their families," Mayor Barrett said.

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  • Ubiquitous King

    At least he is holding true to his campaign of moving Wisconsin forward. He just did not say closer to the cliff. He’ll get re-elected, people don’t learn until they fall completely over the cliff.

      • Ubiquitous King

        What! you made a bold assertion about my comprehension levels. It would behoove you to do a re-evaluation of your comprehension levels. One of the jobs of governors is to make the states that they govern attractive to business and to conserve and preserve existing and prospective interests relative to employers. Is that not why Walker campaigned that he would bring 250k jobs to the state of Wisconsin? So if he can get kudos for what he has not delivered how can he be exempt from criticism when instead of bringing employment and sustaining existing employment, the converse is happening? Maybe if the story was in dots you could connect them but because of your lack of comprehension you failed to make the connection.

    • Botswana Jones

      You’re right King! It’s Scott Walker’s fault beef production is down and cattle are limited. It’s also his fault American went out of business! You just woke me up. Bring back a democratic governor because Wisconsin was truly a utopia under Doyle. No more shenanigans! Down with Walker!

      • Ubiquitous King

        Nice sarcasm, though I was not implying that scotty had anything to do with cattle supply, I was making the point that if you base your campaign on job growth and you imply that you will bring a certain number of jobs to this state and the converse is happening you should be held partially accountable for the dissolution of jobs because scotty supporters will pat him on the back when he equates success with concessions. Though companies will apply their own cost benefit analyses, there are still things that government officials can do to minimize losses, like tax suppression periods, something that has been used in other situations to attract or conserve firms interested in doing business here. All of a sudden there is no level of culpability for scotty, really, then if he has nothing whatsoever to do with these 600 lost jobs then what about the credit given to him for the little over 100,000 jobs that were supposedly gained, does he get patted on the back for that? And if he does than why does he not get ridiculed for the 150,000 plus shortfall that he is or is not responsible for? So let me get this straight, a candidate can campaign while telling the public that he/she will do something, say create 250k private sector jobs, he/she can fail miserably at providing that which was said, but can implement concessions and pass those concessions off as successes and the candidate can still be considered valid? What about the foundation he/she campaigned upon, it is no longer valid? This is why I just observe politics because there exists no accountability for liars, people knew he was lying coming in, now add 600 more Wisconsin jobs lost to the more than 150,000 that has not been created. Thanks scotty for making me prophetic, you lied, and I knew you were when you campaigned, lucky for you your opponent was equally not qualified.

  • diane

    This if what has been said is true was a company doing an business analysis..and needed to consolidate..to stay viable..if a certain branch isnt making a profit…this is sad…but not walkers fault….hey you could be trek bicycle and just have the jobs in China….

    • Ann

      One of the reasons they are in China, is because those bikes are sold to the Chineese. What is the main form of transportation in China? The bicycle. What you failed to mention is that they also have a plant in the Netherlands. What is the main form of transportation in Amsterdam? The bicycle. Pretty smart to make it where almostall of your customer base is.

  • IMO

    Not surprising at all considering the prices of beef in the supermarkets. Whose buying beef anymore? Unless it’s on sale, I don’t. A lot of “affordable” beef is being raised and shipped from Mexico now. They are starting to corner the market, like everything else. Wait ’til you taste Mexican beef too, you’ll start buying other types of meat instead. I tried Mexican raised/shipped beef because the price was realistic. I must’ve had the cow that jumped over the moon. It was tough and flavorless. Never again.

  • Stephanie

    Once again people you’re arguing about Walker and politics I understand the frustration. But tbh the real problem here is the 600 families without income in the next 60 days. And Imo I would never buy meat made in another country they have different standards you really have no idea what your putting in your body. Just my opinion.

  • zan

    Been there, Cargill folks, and my heart goes out to you. Being suddenly unemployed feels terrible. I hope everyone lands on their feet soon.

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