A worker at the Prestage Foods pork plant in Eagle Grove, Iowa, died on September 10 from injuries sustained during an accident while he was performing routine maintenance at the plant.

The accident occurred in the early morning hours during the third shift.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our team members early this morning at our Eagle Grove facility,” Prestage Foods of Iowa CEO Jere Null said in a statement released to KWWL. “… Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, co-workers and friends.”

Jeffrey Leonardi, 57, was a mechanic and had been an employee of Prestage Foods since the plant opened in March 2019.

Null stated that the Iowa Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has been notified of the accident, and that the company it offering its full cooperation. Prestage Foods is also conducting its own internal investigation, as well as offering support to Leonardi’s co-workers through the Employee Assistance Program.


Leonardi is the second worker at the Prestage plant to die since the plant opened. In February, another employee, Wayne Smith, was fatally stabbed at the facility. According to authorities, a co-worker, Lukouxs Brown, allegedly stabbed him, but Brown was found incompetent to stand trial.

Prestage Farms announced its plans to build the pork plant in Eagle Grove in 2016 and it began production in 2019. As the construction of the $325 million plant neared completion in December 2018, the company was the recipient of the “Outstanding Business of the Year” Iowa Venture Award, presented by the Iowa Area Development Group at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ annual meeting.

At the time, it was reported that the plant was expected employ nearly 1,000 workers and produce 600 million pounds of pork processed per year, 45 percent of which was expected to other facilities for further processing; 25 to 30 percent was to be sold in the international marketplace, while grocery chains, stores, and meat retailers would sell the remainder.

In addition to being a major pork producer, Prestage Farms, headquartered in Clinton, North Carolina, is also one of the country’s largest turkey producers.