Agriprocessors Inc. Agriprocessors, agriprocessors illegal immigrants, agriprocessors owners fined, agriprocessor manager arrested
Charlie Neibergall
Agriprocessors Inc. kosher meatpacking plant, Postville, Iowa.

Agriprocessors Wins Funding Despite Debt and Controversy

December 03, 2008 12:58 PM
by Isabel Cowles
The nation's largest kosher meat packing plant will receive funding from a bank to reopen despite arrests, fines and federal conspiracy charges made against its managers.

Aid to Agriprocessors

Thanks to a New York bankruptcy court order, Agriprocessors, Inc., the nation’s largest kosher meat packing plant, will receive significant funding to reopen after being closed due to immigration raids.

The court approved a $2.5 million advance from First Bank Business Capital of St. Louis, which will facilitate the processing of about 750,000 chickens at the Agriprocessors plant, the Associated Press reports.

Agriprocessors currently owes First Bank $34 million, and has been foreclosed on by the bank already. Without the funds, Agriprocessor’s chickens would likely starve, however, becoming a liability rather than an asset.

Operations could resume as early as today and continue through Jan. 9; funds are allotted to support limited employees, as well as rabbis to ensure that kosher standards are upheld.

The renewed production will be a welcome relief to many in the Jewish community who have had difficulty procuring kosher meat since Agriprocessors was shut down in September.

An article in Arutz Sheva, an Israeli national news source, reported in November that many Jews who keep kosher have been forced into vegetarianism due to the rising prices and shortage of acceptable meat.

According to the report, “Nationwide shortages have forced many people to eat vegetarian meals on the Sabbath, when meat and chicken are a long-standing tradition. Many stores throughout the U.S. reported their meat cases were empty.”

Background: Agriprocessors Arrests and Fines

U.S. Customs and Immigration officials arrested Sholom Rubashkin, the former plant manager of the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors, Inc., on "federal conspiracy charges of harboring illegal immigrants and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft," reported CNN at the end of October.

Those charges stemed from a massive raid of the plant by federal immigration authorities in May that resulted in the arrests of hundreds of illegal immigrant workers, at least 30 of whom were minors. The Postville, Iowa-based company, its practices and the process by which businesses are certified as kosher, were thrust into the national spotlight.

Rubashkin, along with his father, Agriprocessors owner Aaron Rubashkin, as well as others of the company’s top managers, were previously charged on Sept. 17 with more than 9,000 misdemeanor child labor law violations. All of the defendants pled “not guilty” to the charges via written pleas.

Also on Sept. 17, two human resources managers were indicted by a grand jury for aiding and abetting document fraud as well as aggravated identity theft.

The state of Iowa fined Agriprocessors, Inc., nearly $10 million on Oct. 29, for violating labor laws.

The state spent several months investigating allegations that the plant underpaid employees, hired illegal aliens and falsified worker documents from January 2006 to June 2008. The state’s labor agency, Iowa Workforce Development, analyzed company documents like time sheets, wage stubs and payroll information to determine the degree of labor violation, according to agency representative Kerry Koonce.
The AP reported that  “The civil penalties totaled $9.99 million, including $339,700 for the illegal deduction of ‘sales tax/miscellaneous’ costs nearly 3,400 times; $9.6 million for illegally deducting money from 2,001 employees for protective clothing more than 96,000 times; and for failing to pay 42 employees their last paychecks following the raid by immigration agents.”

Reference: Kosher standards, Agriprocessors updates


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