Shrinking cattle herd to shut down Cargill Wisconsin beef plant

CHICAGO, July 30 Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:15pm EDT

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CHICAGO, July 30 (Reuters) - Cargill Inc, one of the nation's largest beef processors, said on Wednesday it plans to close its Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beef-processing plant on Friday, because the size of the U.S. herd has fallen to its smallest in 63 years.

The ground beef production side of the plant, which employs about 200 people, will remain open, the company said.

"Closing our Milwaukee beef plant is taking place only after we conducted an 18-month-long analysis of the region's cattle supply and examined all other possible options," said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, based in Wichita, Kansas.

"The harsh reality is that the U.S. beef cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1951, with any significant herd expansion being years away," he said.

The Milwaukee facility has an estimated daily slaughter capacity of 1,300 to 1,400 cattle.

(Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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