Tyson Fresh Meats, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc., said it is reducing its beef production capacity by permanently shutting down beef operations at its Denison, Iowa plant due to a continued lack of available cattle.

"This was a very difficult decision because it affects the lives of our people, their families and a community that has supported this plant for more than 50 years," said Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats. "However, the realities of the beef business have changed and we must continue to change with it to remain successful.

The decision affects 400 workers at the production facility, though the by-product rendering system at the Denison plant will continue operations. It will process by-products from other Tyson locations and will employ approximately 20 people, the company said.

Stouffer said with the current tight cattle supply and an abundance of beef production in the region the company believes the decision will better position the rest of its beef business for success in the future.

The Denison facility opened in 1961 as the first plant operated by Iowa Beef Packers which was acquired by Tyson foods in 2001 and renamed Tyson Fresh Meats. Tyson Fresh Meats' other beef plants are located in Amarillo, TX; Dakota City, NE; Finney County, KS; Joslin, IL; Lexington, NE and Pasco, WA.

 Employees whose jobs are being cut will be given the opportunity to apply for jobs at other Tyson locations. According to the company, it is offering financial incentives to hourly workers who qualify for production openings at the company's Lexington, Nebraska, beef plant.