Market News & Headlines >> Grain Facilities, Slaughter Plants Closed by Cold

Hog slaughter plants, grain elevators and grain processing plants were shut down in the U.S. Midwest on Wednesday as the most severe cold wave in years gripped the region, with temperatures expected to plunge as low as minus 40 degrees in some areas. 

Tyson Foods Inc. canceled two shifts at a pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, while Hormel Foods Corp. halted the hog slaughter at its processor in Austin, Minnesota, three people familiar with the operations told Reuters News Service. The companies did not respond to requests for comment on the closures. The two pork plants each had capacity to kill about 20,000 hogs per day, according to industry estimates. 

Those are likely not the only pork plants closed by the weather. Trade sources surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a Wednesday hog slaughter of only 261,000 head, down from an estimated Tuesday slaughter of 473,000 head.  More closures are likely on Thursday. 

Grain elevators and processors also shut down or reduced operations. A Cargill Inc. spokesperson told Reuters News Service on Wednesday that the company had closed all of its grain plants in the Midwest.  

Grain facilities in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin have been closed while a facility in East St. Louis, Illinois, would be closed at 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT), Cargill spokeswoman April Nelson said in an email. All facilities likely will reopen on Thursday after temperatures warmed, Nelson said, adding that the company's meat plants were operating normally. 

Mechanical issues earlier prevented two Iowa soybean processors operated by Cargill from receiving bean deliveries in Iowa Falls and Cedar Rapids, according to an email seen by Reuters.

An Archer Daniels Midland Co. elevator in Toledo, Ohio, was closed on Wednesday and will remain closed on Thursday due to the extreme cold, according to the facility's website. ADM declined further comment.