Yankton beef plant courts former Aberdeen employees

Farm Forum

A beef processing plant in Yankton is courting laid-off workers from Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen.

Representatives from the Cimpl’s beef processing plant in Yankton conducted job interviews Tuesday and have more interviews scheduled for Wednesday.

Twelve people were interviewed and four were hired for the Cimpl’s plant, said Ellen Paulson, director of talent acquisition and leadership development for American Foods Group, which owns


The interviews were conducted at the Department of Labor Office in Aberdeen.

“We are really pleased with how things have gone so far,” Paulson said. “We have had very good communications.”

In addition to Cimpl’s, jobs are available at other American Foods Group plants throughout the Midwest, Paulson said.

“We are here with opportunities for folks laid off in Aberdeen,” she said. “We are trying to find a win-win situation, where those who are qualified for work can be matched with positions we have.”

Northern Beef Packers laid off 108 workers on April 24 because of a lack of working capital to buy and process cattle, plant officials said at the time of the layoffs. Northern Beef still employs about 300 workers.

During an April 24 news conference, David Palmer, CEO of Northern Beef, said the company hoped to call back laid-off workers in mid- or late July.

American Foods Group, with headquarters in Green Bay, Wis., is the fifth-largest beef processor in the nation, according to the company website.

The company’s job openings include skilled positions such as gutters, leggers, skinners, chuck boners and clod pullers, according to advertisements announcing the job interviews. Other positions available include maintenance, electrical, and quality assurance, as well as supervisory positions.

The Cimpl’s packing plant slaughters an average of 550 cattle per day, said Ryan Schoenfelder, Cimpl’s health and safety coordinator who along with Paulson made up the recruiting team. The Cimpl plant has 230 employees, he said.

Paulson said finding the right employee is important in the beef processing industry.

“People with those skills are in demand,” she said. “They are very critical positions.”

For example, she said a chuck boner must have meticulous knife skills.

“They have to work quickly, work with quality and have endurance,” she said. “It is important to get the right person for that job.”

The Cimpl’s plant processes cows and bulls. The plant handles the prime cuts of beef as well as nonprimals, Paulson said.

Dan Thielsen, Department of Labor and Regulation manager at the Aberdeen office, said interviewing space was made available to American Foods Group because it has facilities in South Dakota in good standing.

American Foods Group owns Performance Pet Products in Mitchell as well as the Cimpl’s plant.

Northern Beef offered no comment concerning American Foods Groups presence in Aberdeen when contacted by the American News.