Swift Meat Plants Closed After U.S. Immigration Raids

UNITED STATES - Swift & Co., the third-largest U.S. beef producer, said operations at six of its meatpacking plants were suspended after federal agents raided the facilities in an investigation into possible hiring of illegal aliens.
calendar icon 13 December 2006
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The plants produce all of Swift's beef in the U.S. and 77 percent of its pork, the Greeley, Colorado-based company said in a statement. Some production at the plants, which account for 11 percent of U.S. beef, may be restored today, Swift spokesman Sean McHugh said.

Officials wouldn't say if the raids are part of a broader probe into the meat industry, which relies heavily on immigrant labor. In April, meat companies including Swift shut plants so workers could attend nationwide immigration rallies. Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meat processor, has lobbied for ``guest worker'' programs and for a process to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status.

``We've never seen anything like this in the history of the meatpacking business,'' said D.A. Davidson & Co. analyst Tim Ramey, referring to today's raids. Ramey upgraded Tyson Foods to ``buy,'' saying Tyson is likely to benefit from the disruption at Swift. Tyson shares jumped 3.9 percent.

``December was a tough month for Tyson and it just got better,'' he said. Immigration officials aren't likely to repeat the scale of raids on Tyson and Cargill Inc., the biggest U.S. beefpackers, Ramey said. ``Even the feds aren't crazy enough to shut down 45 percent of the nation's beef supply.''

Source: Bloomberg.com

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