In the awful timing department, Swift & Co. has announced it will lay off 800 workers from its Greeley beef packing plant on December 20. Its contract with Con Agra to supply cattle expires December 30. What happened?

Mad Cow Disease, for one. Fear of the disease has led to a policy in Canada that does not allow cattle to come into the U.S. for processing. That means we have too much meat-processing plant power and not enough meat to process.

The other reason is a shift to “value-added product,” such as specially cut and sliced, seasoned, marinated and other meat products, which have a margin of return that is three to four times more than those on “traditional boxed beef.”

If you’re not a vegetarian yet, keep reading:

Those new products will come from further muscle separation and finer trimming of cuts of beef which will be done by the new second shift at the plant.

The company is sponsoring an employee support fair on December 23:

Swift & Co. will conduct an employee support fair from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 23 at the First Congregational Church, 2101 16th St. Some of the agencies involved include United Way of Weld County, Weld Food Bank, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities Northern, Weld County Employment Services, Multi-Cultural Services, Weld County Social Services, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 and other area churches.