Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon to close as company cites 'escalating costs' in California

Between 1,800 and 2,500 employees are set to be laid off.
VERNON, Calif. (KABC) -- The Farmer John plant, which is the largest employer in the city of Vernon, is set to close next year.

According to an update issued by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) 770, its bargaining team was prepared to negotiate a new contract when Farmer John representatives announced the closure of the plant.

"Despite a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with Farmer John employees and their union, Smithfield has decided to exit operations in California," said President of UFCW 770 John Grant in a statement sent to Eyewitness News.

Grant said a fair agreement that compensates their workers until next year has been reached.

According the plant's parent company, Smithfield Foods, Inc., the decision was made due to "escalating cost of doing business in California." The company also said it will decrease its sow herd in Utah and is looking at options to exit its farms in Arizona and California.

The company said it's providing transition assistance to all impacted employees, including relocation options to other company facilities and farms as well as retention incentives.

"We hope that another operator will take advantage of the highly trained and stable workforce that makes the Farmer John plant a productive and profitable part of Vernon's packing infrastructure," said Grant.

Sources tell ABC7 between 1,800 and 2,500 employees are set to be laid off.

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