The following remarks are from Governor Kelly’s visit to Finney County on August 14, after a fire occurred at the Tyson plant on Friday, August 9:
Hello, everyone. I appreciate your taking the time to be here today.
First, I want to thank everyone for their swift action in response to the fire Friday at the Tyson plant in Holcomb.
Emergency responders did an exemplary job in the face of a difficult, dangerous situation. We are so relieved to know there were no injuries, and that all Tyson employees were able to evacuate safely after the fire started Friday night.
That speaks volumes to the emphasis Tyson places on workforce safety and evacuation procedures. Kudos to the Tyson team for its emergency preparedness.
Many other groups also came to the aid of those employees, to make sure their needs were met.
Now the focus turns to moving forward with a plant that’s an important economic driver in Finney County and beyond. Tyson is to be commended for its pledge to continue paying its workers affected by the temporary closure of the plant.
And, it’s good to hear Tyson plans to repair the damage and reopen at the current location. That’s very good news for the local economy, and state of Kansas as a whole. Thank you, Noel, and your team at Tyson.
The temporary closure does present serious challenges, however. We must be mindful of the economic implications for cattle producers, with falling market prices and ongoing uncertainty over the temporary loss of the meat processing operation here.
The cattle industry is a huge part of our state’s agriculture industry, and western Kansas in particular is known for its excellence in beef production.
Related businesses also will be affected, including manufacturers, vendors, transportation providers and others who work closely with the Tyson plant.
Much of the growth in this part of the state has stemmed from the meatpacking industry, which comprises the largest share of the food processing industry in the state.
My administration stands ready to help as needed.
I asked Commerce Secretary David Toland and Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam to fly to Garden City the day after the fire to meet with Tyson representatives and local government and economic development officials to offer support.
The Kansas Department of Labor provides rapid-response unemployment and workforce services, should they be needed. Labor Secretary Delia Garcia and other labor department officials are currently working with other local vendors who have been impacted by the fire.
I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about what happened at the Tyson plant, and hear more about plans to move forward. Again, don’t hesitate to call our state agencies. They are ready to help in any way they can.
I look forward to returning to Finney County soon for the re-opening of the Tyson plant.