CHICAGO Nov 15 The National Beef
packing plant in Liberal, Kansas, shut down operations on
Thursday and Friday for mechanical repairs, company spokesman
Keith Welty said in an email response to Reuters on Friday.
The facility is expected to reopen on Saturday, Nov. 16, he
National's Liberal plant, which has an estimated daily
slaughter capacity of about 6,500 head, underwent a partial
closure last week due to "operational issues," industry analysts
and economists said.
"I don't think it's a big disruption from an industry-wide
perspective given the tight cattle supplies. But, it certainly
does remove some mid-week slaughter capacity," said Denver-based
Livestock Information Center director Jim Robb.
Fewer cattle are available for packers to draw from after
multi-year droughts in the United States hurt crops needed by
livestock producers. Several years of high feed costs gradually
reduced the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest level in 61 years.
In early August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food
Safety and Inspection Service said National Beef had recalled
50,100 pounds of ground beef produced at its Liberal plant after
routine monitoring had confirmed the presence of E.coli 0157:H7
in the meat there.
Around mid-June, USDA said that the Liberal, Kansas beef
packing facility implemented a voluntary recall of about 23,000
lbs of raw ground beef after a positive test for E.coli 0157:H7.
There were no reports of illnesses linked with eating the
product in either case.
"I haven't heard people talking about it, and I don't know
if the two situations are related," said Robb.