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Last South St. Paul beef plant idles 300 workers

Published 9:57am Thursday, July 3, 2014

SOUTH ST. PAUL — The last beef-packing plant in South St. Paul said it’s temporarily shutting down to an “extremely short supply of cattle.”

Reports say Dakota Premium Foods is idling 300 employees. Its parent company, American Foods Group, said it doesn’t know how long the shutdown will last.

The number of cattle in the U.S. has been declining for eight years, and the severe drought across much of the western U.S. has worsened the shortage. The number of cattle and calves in the U.S. is at its lowest level since the early 1950s.

South St. Paul was once the heart of the Upper Midwest meatpacking industry. Swift and Armour once had major plants there, but they closed by the early 1980s as the economics of the industry changed.