DODGE CITY, Kan. — There are twice as many cattle in Kansas as there are humans, but because of the drought, cattle numbers are going down. It’s been noticeable in the form of higher prices at the grocery store, but now the packing plants are taking a hit. Cargill meats’ Dodge City plant announced this week that they’ll be laying people off.
“Those packing plants have to layoff some of their employees, because there’s nothing for them to do. There’s no cattle to process,” said KSN’s Agriculture expert John Jenkinson.
In an official statement, Cargill said they’re speaking with their employees, trying to figure out how many people will be laid off and how many people they can reassign. They also said they hope to re-hire those laid off once production is back up. Of their 2,700 person workforce, they said the number will stay above 2,000.
“We don’t know whether it’s going to be three people or 300,” said the Dodge Chamber of Commerce President Dan Schenkein. “We’re hoping it’s not in the higher numbers.”
While the town is concerned for those who will lose their jobs, they’re staying positive about the long term.
“The plants not going anywhere,” Schenkein said. “They’re making millions of dollars worth of investments in this plant and in this community.”
Cargill is still enthusiastic about the $50 million project to boost efficiency in the future, but as far as future layoffs, that depends on the rain.
“All of the economies in this [Southwest] area are going to feel the pinch of this drought. This is just another result of that,” Jenkinson said.