Employees at the Sioux City, Iowa, John Morrel & Co. are considering their options after this week's announcement that the plant was closing. The facility, owned by Smithfield Foods, employs 1,400 people, making it one of the largest employers in the city.

“We will get through this,” said Paul Eckert, city manager, in a press conference. City officials said that they had been in talks with Smithfield about a plan to relocate and expand the facility, which would have been approximately a $200 million project. The city had offered $47 million in incentives for the deal, which was almost agreed upon in 2008.

"That includes tax credits, that's a lot of state assistance as well as local assistance, tax increment financing, a number of different types of incentives based on jobs. They were at that time going to add jobs. We were literally within a few weeks of an announcement of that plant reconstruction when they pulled the plug on that," said Marty Dougherty, Sioux City economic development director.

The plant has a significant number of Latino workers, and Norma DeLao, New Iowan Center director, says that limited English skills, lack of a high school diploma or GED credential and age may be facrots in them finding employment.

"A lot of them have their entire family working there," she said. "Many of them have been here for a long time, so they have homes. They have ties to the community." She added that many may look for work at other meatpacking plants or find work in construction or housekeeping, where they will likely face a pay cut.

Luis Ramirez, who owns a grocery store in the area, said he is concerned about the future of his grocery store. He added that several people he knows that work at the plant are planning on leaivng Sioux City for Mexico or other places when the plant is closed.

Another concern the city has is that, if families move out of the area, a large number of students will leave before the next school year starts in August. That will affect the amount of school aid given to the city's school districts The immediate concern is for the well-being of the students whose parents are about to lose their jobs when the plant closes in April.

"Our main concern is for the students," said Paul Gausman, Sioux City schools superintendent. "We want to make sure we have counselors to let kids talk if they're concerned or scared, to deal with the kids' emotional needs." He said the schools will also meet with parent groups and do anything they can to help students and parents through the challenge.

Sources: Sioux City Journal, KTIV

Russian, U.S. poultry talks end with no agreements

Russian chicken importers have begun seeking alternative suppliers, including Thailand, as talks with U.S. experts ground to a halt on Thursday without a commitment to reopen Washington's biggest export market, Reuters reports.

Both sides said that progress was made during the two-day talks and stated that negotiations would continue to resolve the disputes that have affected the pork exports as well as poultry exports. There was no word on when those talks would resume, however.

Source: Reuters

Lawsuit filed over National Steak & Poultry recall

The parents of a Utah boy was was sickened in the outbreak ofE. colithat led to a 248,000-pound recall by National Steak and Poultry have filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit is the first as a result of the outbreak, which sickened 21 people in 16 states, reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The 14-year-old boy experienced severe symptoms of E. coli after eating the infected meat in October. He was taken to a hospital and disgnosed with gastrointestinal bleeding. He was hospitalized for two days. Of the people who were sickened in the outbreak, nine were hospitalized.

Source: Salt Lake City Tribune

Burger King opens first Russian location

Burger King Corp. today announced a new market entry with the opening of the first Burger King restaurant in Moscow, Russia. This restaurant opening is part of the company's expansion strategy in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operating region.

"We believe that our brand's entry into Russia exemplifies our company's commitment to diversifying our global restaurant portfolio and represents a milestone in our expansion strategy in the region," said John W. Chidsey, chairman and CEO, Burger King Corp. "More than 80 percent of our net restaurant growth is realized in international markets, and we are pleased with our new strategic market entry into Russia and its future expansion potential."

The first Burger King restaurant in Russia is located in the Metropolis shopping mall in Moscow. A second restaurant is scheduled to open later this month in Moscow's well-known "Europeysky" shopping center. Additional restaurants are expected to open in the market throughout 2010 and beyond.

"Russia is an exciting, active market with a vibrant economy," said Kevin Higgins, president, EMEA, Burger King Corp. "We believe consumers in Russia will embrace the Burger King menu of flame-grilled offerings, including the Whopper sandwich, the brand's flagship product of more than 50 years."

Source: Burger King Corp.