Labor Department errs in Cargill contract amount

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2011 - 9:09 PM

The agribusiness giant has closer to $60 million in federal contracts, not the $550 million previously stated by the U.S. Labor Department.

In accusing Cargill Inc. of hiring discrimination last week, the U.S. Labor Department called on the Minnetonka-based agribusiness giant to improve its practices or face a costly punishment -- the potential loss of $550 million in federal contracts.

It turns out, the department acknowledged Tuesday, that Cargill doesn't even do that much business with the government. Not even close.

The new estimate: more like $60 million in meat supply contracts with the Department of Defense.

Cargill had questioned the previous figure, with a spokesman saying the company was "at a loss as to how that number was derived."

A Labor Department spokesman said Tuesday that the original announcement mistakenly included contracts that have expired.

The department last week sued Cargill for alleged hiring discrimination at its Springdale, Ark., turkey plant and is proposing to penalize the company by stripping it of its federal contracts.

The government is accusing the company of race or gender discrimination against more than 4,000 qualified entry-level workers.

Cargill denies the allegations.

MIKE HUGHLETT

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