Topeka Smithfield Foods Inc. plans to keep plants operated by Farmland Foods Inc.'s pork division open and bring their maintenance up to date, a Smithfield executive said Tuesday.
Richard Poulson, executive vice president for Virginia-based Smithfield, said his firm also planned to retain all of about 6,100 Farmland workers.
Most of those employees work in livestock production and processing plants in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio and Utah. A Farmland plant in Wichita processes pork for sausage and employs 520 workers.
Smithfield is acquiring Farmland's pork division under an agreement worked out in federal bankruptcy court. Smithfield plans to pay $367.4 million in cash for almost all the assets of the Kansas City, Mo.-based Farmland division.
"We consider the work force and the management team to be, probably, the most valuable of the assets we acquired," Poulson said.
Poulson said Smithfield considered the Farmland plants superior to most of its own.