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Pilgrim's Pride Cutting 213 Jobs

Tue, 04/13/2010 - 5:23am

PITTSBURG, Texas (AP) — Pilgrim's Pride Corp. said Monday it is eliminating 213 jobs by closing corporate offices in Texas and Georgia as part of the chicken producer's consolidation with JBS USA.

The offices are expected to close within 60 days as most corporate functions move to JBS USA's headquarters in Greeley, Colo., Pilgrim's officials said in a news release.

Pilgrim's Pride sold a majority of its business to the U.S. unit of Brazilian beef maker JBS SA in an $800 million deal after emerging from bankruptcy last year. The east Texas company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008 after it was unable to cope with mounting debt, low chicken prices and rising feed costs, which hurt much of the industry.

The closings will affect 158 employees at Pilgrim's Pride's corporate headquarters in Pittsburg, Texas, and 55 workers at a satellite office in suburban Atlanta, the company said.

Pilgrim's Pride chief executive Don Jackson said the company would maintain production operations, including in Mount Pleasant, and have a smaller administrative office in Pittsburg.

"This consolidation is critical to our ability to realize the full benefits of our integration into JBS," Jackson said.

Many employees at the offices that are closing have been offered positions at other facilities, the company said. The layoffs are expected to begin in June, and the company said it would provide severance benefits and job placement assistance.

Pilgrim's Pride continued to operate while under bankruptcy protection but underwent major changes — shuttering plants, cutting thousands of jobs and shedding production to improve its financial position. It was the country's largest chicken producer, with about 23 percent of the market, before filing for bankruptcy.

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