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Smithfield Targets Mid-February for Closure of Legacy Farmer John Plant

Feb. 3, 2023
Smithfield Foods will shutter the Vernon, Calif., Farmer John processing plant in mid-February, according to reports out of the Los Angeles area.

Smithfield, Va.-based pork processor Smithfield Foods announced last summer the eventual closure of the longstanding Farmer John processing plant in metropolitan Los Angeles, and this week disclosed that the facility has only a couple weeks of operation time remaining.

Smithfield Foods will shutter the Vernon, Calif., facility (located approximately five miles from downtown Los Angeles) in mid-February, according to company representative as reported by City News Service of Los Angeles. No official closure date has been set, but the company is winding down operations and offering to transition workers to other facilities.

The Farmer John brand and plant are well-known to sports fans in the region for producing the iconic “Dodger Dogs” at Major League Baseball’s Dodger Stadium. That partnership ended after the 2019 season. The plant employs approximately 2,000 workers, whose futures are now uncertain. As of now, the plant’s future was uncertain as well, and union representatives were on record hoping another company might step in and utilize the facility.

The company was founded in 1931, operating as Clougherty Brothers Packing Co. until 1953, when the company was officially renamed Farmer John. The unique mural covering the entire face of the original plant was painted in the 1950s, and the company’s partnership with the Dodgers franchise to produce Dodger Dogs began late in that decade as well.

The Clougherty family sold the company to Hormel Foods in 2004, and in 2017, Smithfield Foods acquired Farmer John from Hormel. Farmer John products will continue to be offered, Smithfield representatives have stated, but they will no longer be processed in the Los Angeles area.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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