The JBS beef plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, is back in operation after a fire broke out at the facility on September 12.
The Grand Island Fire Department (GIFD), at 10:03 p.m. on September 12 posted on its Twitter feed that the rendering roof at the plant was on fire. On the following morning, GIFD tweeted that a shift change had occurred, and new firefighting crews were on the scene.
Meanwhile, on its Facebook page, JBS Grand Island Beef posted that fabrication and slaughter shifts A and B would not be working on September 13.
JBS spokesperson Nikki Richardson, in an email to WATT Global Media, stated on the morning of September 14 that the plant was now open and operational.
Grand Island Fire Chief Cory Schmidt told Reuters that the damage was confined to the rendering are of the plant. “Fortunately, JBS is very modular so if one area has an issue, for the most part it doesn’t affect the other areas.”
A cause of the fire was not given.
The affected plant reportedly slaughters about 5% of the U.S. cattle herd.
The fire comes at a time when JBS and the greater beef industry is under criticism for being too consolidated.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, recently brought this concern to the forefront following a cybersecurity attack on JBS that occurred earlier in 2021. Tester, in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland, expressed his worries that when the meat and poultry industries become too consolidated, the country’s whole supply is jeopardized.
“JBS currently processes more than 20 percent of cattle, more than 15 percent of the pork, and a significant portion of the poultry in the United States,” Tester wrote.
“As a farmer, I know first-hand both the importance of feeding America and the complexity of our food supply chains. Through my own experiences and from conversations with countless producers, it is clear that our food systems are far too vulnerable.”
The beef industry experienced a disruption due to a fire in August 2019, when the Tyson Foods beef plant near Holcomb, Kansas, was seriously damaged by a fire. While the further processing portion of the plant remained in operation, but full operations did not return until near the end of the year.
Also in 2019, operations at the Cargill beef plant in Dodge City, Kansas, about 60 miles east of Holcomb, were briefly halted after an explosion occurred.