|What's With All the Food Processing Plants Blowing Up Lately?|
BY JEFF REYNOLDS APR 23, 2022 1:40 PM ET
A weird trend has emerged over the past few months that seems statistically unlikely. A number of factories, logistical centers, and food processing plants have caught fire or exploded, including two that had planes crash on them. More and more people have noticed and wondered about the trend on social media. Of course, this has caused the conspiracy theorists to come out in force, so one must make a sober assessment without jumping to conclusions. But man, this is weird. With all the negative pressures on our economy and supply chains, and even Joe Biden talking about global food shortages over the next several months, one has to wonder what’s going on here.
One large logistics center going up in flames is enough to sit up and take notice. That happened at a Walmart distribution center in Indianapolis on March 21, requiring over 350 firefighters to extinguish:
Around 1,000 employees were inside a Walmart Fulfillment Center in Plainfield, near Indianapolis, Wednesday afternoon when a fire broke out.
Crews battled the blaze as the fire sent large plumes of smoke into the air, visible from miles away.
By Friday, Plainfield Fire Territory Fire Chief Brent Anderson said the fire was out, although crews moving debris are still suppressing hot spots.
“We are working our 50th hour since this event started at about noon on Wednesday,” Anderson said.
A second Walmart Fulfillment Center is located next to one that caught fire. The second building closed Wednesday and remained closed Thursday due to its proximity to the burning building.
The facility that caught fire is about 1.2 million square feet, about the size of 20 football fields. Fire crews had the fire contained to the first Walmart fulfillment Center building, officials said.
A fire of that size is big enough to cause temporary, localized disruptions in an already stressed supply chain. Reviewing media reports going back six months, a larger trend emerges.
This is an odd coincidence …
18 U.S. food processing facilities burned down in the last six months. Azure Standard's HQ burned down yesterday. pic.twitter.com/o5DnAQsIAO
— Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv) April 21, 2022
Is there a coordinated attack on our food processing plants? There have been too many "accidents" in the last month to not start to think it…
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) April 22, 2022
An explosion caused significant damage at Shearer’s Foods in Hermiston, Ore. in February, leaving seven workers injured. In April, a Salinas, Calif. food processing plant suffered a large fire that threatened to cause an ammonia explosion, leading to local evacuations.
A large fire two weeks ago at the Port of Benicia in California took over 24 hours to extinguish, leading to fears of further gas price hikes:
It took firefighters just over 24 hours to put out a four-alarm fire at the port of Benicia that broke out Saturday afternoon. While investigators look for the cause of the fire, the port and the companies that use it are assessing how big an economic impact the fire will have in the Bay Area.
The Valero refinery uses the Benicia port to offload crude oil from freighters. The fire damaged a conveyor belt that transports a byproduct of the refining process called petroleum coke which must be eliminated. Energy experts say that, if Valero can’t get rid of the petroleum coke, it will disrupt their ability to produce gasoline.
“Any kind of a supply constraint like this will tend to push (gas) prices up,” said Dave Hackett, chairman of Stillwater Associates, a transportation and energy consulting company based in Irvine.
This after a gas pipeline in Michigan exploded in March.
On April 19, a fire destroyed the Azure Standard Headquarters in Dufur, Ore. The CEO said:
For our customers, three primary product groups are affected due to the destroyed automated liquid pour facility, fruit packing facilities and carob products facilities. Because of this, we will experience out-of-stock status for Azure Market oils, honey and vinegars – basically any Azure Market liquid product – as well as our carob products for the short term. We are not yet at fruit harvest, so no immediate impact will be experienced from the loss of our fruit packing facility. None of the products we distribute for our vendors will be affected.
In March, a fire destroyed a potato plant in Belfast, Maine:
The large fire at a potato processing plant in Belfast is expected to have ripple effects across Maine’s agriculture industry.
The Penobscot McCrum plant processed Maine-grown spuds into products sold around the country.
A fire tore through the building Thursday morning, destroying the facility and leaving the 138 people who work there without a job.
Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, said the loss of the plant will have a negative impact on the state’s potato growers.
“I think everyone wants to do everything they can to get that plant back because it’s important in our industry. It has a very unique place in the market, Flannery said.
The suspicious fires have not been limited to the United States. Russia shelled a large food warehouse area outside of Kyiv in March as part of its invasion; a large supermarket warehouse caught fire in Madeira, Spain; and food riots have broken out in Peru.
Is this just an anomaly, slightly outside the normal number of food processing plants and other industrial facilities that explode or catch fire over a period of months?
Just this morning, another one struck. This time, another General Mills plant in Iowa.
This is where it’s important to keep things in perspective. As one person responded on Twitter, there are over 34,000 food processing plants in the United States.
USDA data says there are 34,661 food and beverage processing facilities in the US. .005% of facilities effected. REALLY!
— Phil Mortensen (@zzcop666) April 21, 2022
The actual number listed on the USDA website is 36,486.
As they say, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. One can manipulate statistics to create virtually any desired outcome to support a narrative. But looking into the plants that have been damaged or destroyed, something seems off.
The oddest coincidence? Small planes have now crashed into two food processing plants, one in Idaho, and another a week and a half later in Georgia. On April 13, a private pilot carrying UPS freight crashed onto the roof of the Gem State Processing plant in Burley, Idaho. The pilot was killed, but the crash caused no significant damage to the plant. On April 21, a much more significant crash happened outside of Atlanta, causing a large fire in an isolated part of a General Mills plant:
Officials said there were no survivors aboard a small plane that crashed into the General Mills plant in Covington early Thursday evening.
Captain Ken Malcom with the Covington Police Department said around 6:45 p.m. a twin-engine Cessna appeared to start having engine trouble. Witnesses told police it traveled northeast, but appeared to be having trouble gaining altitude and was making unusual engine noises. Malcom said the plane then veered right and came straight down onto an isolated area of the plant where tractor trailers are stored.
Witnesses said a small Cessna seemed to have fallen out of the sky near the General Mills plant in Covington on Thursday evening. The fiery crash, which did not have any survivors, is now under investigation.
Police said the plane appeared to explode on impact. Witnesses said there were a series of small explosions after the crash. About six trailers that were parked together and believed to be mostly empty caught fire and were damaged after the crash.
Meanwhile, in an underreported story back in the U.S, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order on April 15 declaring a “supply chain emergency”:
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has declared what was described as a supply chain state of emergency, thus becoming the first governor to respond in such a manner to a state’s supply chain challenges.
Kemp’s executive order, which goes into effect Saturday and runs until May 16, bans price gouging on goods and services such as diesel fuel and gasoline. It allows trucks with a gross vehicle weight — tractor, trailer and freight — of up to 95,000 pounds and with a maximum width of 10 feet to operate on Georgia’s state and local roads. The state’s current gross vehicle weight limit is 80,000 pounds and the maximum width of a five-axle truck is 8 feet, 5 inches.
Others have started noticing pressures on the food industry in the United States.
Add to this Union Pacific notified America's largest distributer of fertilizer (CF Industries) that they will be limiting shipments by nearly 20%. "The timing of this action by Union Pacific could not come at a worse time for farmers," said CF CEO Tony Will in a press release.
— Patrick M Hill (@Pmhgroup) April 22, 2022
Please, if you're a farmer, beef up your cybersecurity. It really doesn't take much effort but it could save you MILLIONS of $$ in the long run t.co
— Kimberly Morin (@Conservativeind) April 22, 2022
CF Industries, a large fertilizer manufacturer, issued a statement in response to Union Pacific:
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CF), a leading global manufacturer of hydrogen and nitrogen products, today informed customers it serves by Union Pacific rail lines that railroad-mandated shipping reductions would result in nitrogen fertilizer shipment delays during the spring application season and that it would be unable to accept new rail sales involving Union Pacific for the foreseeable future. The Company understands that it is one of only 30 companies to face these restrictions.
CF Industries ships to customers via Union Pacific rail lines primarily from its Donaldsonville Complex in Louisiana and its Port Neal Complex in Iowa. The rail lines serve key agricultural areas such as Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and California. Products that will be affected include nitrogen fertilizers such as urea and urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) as well as diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), an emissions control product required for diesel trucks. CF Industries is the largest producer of urea, UAN and DEF in North America, and its Donaldsonville Complex is the largest single production facility for the products in North America.
“The timing of this action by Union Pacific could not come at a worse time for farmers,” said Tony Will, president and chief executive officer, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. “Not only will fertilizer be delayed by these shipping restrictions, but additional fertilizer needed to complete spring applications may be unable to reach farmers at all. By placing this arbitrary restriction on just a handful of shippers, Union Pacific is jeopardizing farmers’ harvests and increasing the cost of food for consumers.”
On Friday, April 8, 2022, Union Pacific informed CF Industries without advance notice that it was mandating certain shippers to reduce the volume of private cars on its railroad effective immediately. The Company was told to reduce its shipments by nearly 20%. CF Industries believes it will still be able to fulfill delivery of product already contracted for rail shipment to Union Pacific destinations, albeit with likely delays. However, because Union Pacific has told the Company that noncompliance will result in the embargo of its facilities by the railroad, CF Industries may not have available shipping capacity to take new rail orders involving Union Pacific rail lines to meet late season demand for fertilizer.
Worries have long persisted over fertilizer and grain shortages, as both Ukraine and Russia produce a significant amount of both products on the global market. Disruptions due to the Russian invasion had already started impacting global food markets, as Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds wrote in the New York Post recently. The World Bank issued a statement in March warning against hoarding. Now, the U.S. domestic markets are under increased stress.
With that as a background, back to the fires and explosions and plane crashes. The question remains—are these mere coincidences? One could be forgiven for not trusting official explanations in a post-COVID and post-election world in which panic porn and propaganda have replaced the news. Then again, one must guard against succumbing to fear over pressures on food supplies and jumping to conclusions.
So, are these all just weird coincidences, or is something else going on?