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Jennie-O idles 233 in Faribault; first mass Minn. layoff tied to bird flu

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A Minnesota turkey flock
In this 2012 photo provided by Bethany Hahn is a flock of turkeys at a Minnesota poultry farm.
Bethany Hahn via AP 2012

Hormel's Jennie-O Turkey Store division will lay off 233 workers at its Faribault, Minn., plant in what appears to be the first mass layoff in Minnesota tied to avian influenza.

Jennie-O says the H5N2 virus has reduced the number of turkeys available, so the company will move to a single processing shift in Faribault. Layoffs will start May 26.

About three dozen Minnesota farms that supply turkeys to Jennie-O have been hit by the flu, plus another half-dozen in Wisconsin.

In a statement last month, Hormel warned the disease was lowering turkey supplies and would cause reduced sales volumes.

As of last summer, there were more than 6,000 poultry processing jobs in Minnesota at a variety of companies.