Cargill to Close Wisconsin Plant as Cattle Supply Shrinks

Cargill Inc., the largest closely held U.S. company, plans to close its beef-processing plant in Wisconsin amid a shrinking domestic supply of cattle.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, factory will close Aug. 1, Cargill said in a statement today. The plant, which employs 600 people, was bought by Cargill in 2001 and can process as many as 1,400 animals a day. Ground-beef production will continue at the site, the Minneapolis-based 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,” John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, said in the statement. “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.”

U.S. cattle inventories as of July 1 fell to the lowest for the date since records began in 1973, the U.S. Department of Agriculture data said last week.

Cargill idled a beef plant in Plainview, Texas, last year. The company said today its six remaining U.S. beef processing plants are unaffected.

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