MARSHALL (KMHL) – Hog farmers in southwest Minnesota who sold their hogs to Smithfield are finding themselves in a pinch as they wait to see how things turnout with the indefinite closure of the company’s Sioux Falls plant.

Minnesota Pork Producers Association President Dave Preissler says Smithfield is trying to re-route the hogs it has contracts to purchase – but that the capacity of the Sioux Falls plant is 20,000 hogs per day.

“It will really stretch the capacity of all of those other plants to be able to deal with that, but we’ll see how this goes,” said Preissler.

If Smithfield isn’t able to meet the demand it could force farmers to hold on to their hogs longer, meaning they won’t be able to bring in new pigs and would be forced to try and find a way to keep their head from putting on too much weight.

It adds another challenge for pork producers, who are already seeing the effects of a depressed market related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are obviously running very, very tight, and that’s an understatement, on matching pigs coming to market and the amount of packing capacity that is out there,” said Preissler.

He says producers are also waiting to see if a Tyson plant in Iowa will re-open. He says if another plant were forced to close right now it could put producers in a really tough spot.