note sanitizing tent near the entrance of the West Central Turkeys Jennie-O plant in Pelican Rapids.

Pelican’s West Central Turkeys continue local operations; no cases identified here to date

Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. temporarily closed two facilities in Willmar after 14 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Jennie-O plant in Pelican Rapids is not—so far—among the upper midwest food processing plants impacted by a string of shut-downs.

Rumors circulated in the Pelican Rapids community suggested that there was at least one infected employee, but appear to be unconfirmed.

Calls to Willmar Jennie-O corporate offices from the Pelican Rapids Press were not returned over the course of the past week. However, a Hormel-Jennie-O spokesman stated to the Fargo Forum that, “We have not had any positive cases at the Pelican Rapids Location.

“We absolutely have robust precautions in place for our team members. The health and well-being of our people is our highest priority. We continue to have the highest sanitation and food safety standards in all our production facilities,” was the prepared response from a Hormel official, published in a column by Mike McFeely, of the Forum.

The Willmar turkey plants were the latest meat processing facilities in the U.S. that have had to temporarily close or slow down production due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All employees at the Willmar plants will continue to “receive 100 percent of their base pay and benefits during the pause in production,” according to the news release.

More than 1,200 people work at the two turkey plants in Wilmar. In Pelican Rapids, the West Central plant employs more than 700.

The Pelican Rapids West Central Turkeys Plant, which went online in 1957 as a turkey growers cooperative, was later bought out by Jennie-O and Hormel.

The two Willmar facilities will undergo a deep cleaning during the temporary closure.