Cargill Meat Solutions, the US meat business of agri-giant Cargill, has confirmed that it will be laying off staff at its Dodge City processing facility in response to tight cattle supplies in the country.

"Our analysis of the cattle supply for the next few years projects continued tight supplies as the herd begins to rebuild from the recent drought conditions. Aligning production with the available supply for harvest will enable the plant to run more efficiently," a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

The company does not have a "firm number" for how many employees will be laid off or reassigned but the spokesperson confirmed that the site will still employ "well above" 2,000 people following the streamlining process.

"Dodge City continues to be an integral part of the beef business for Cargill. We are continuing our investment in the Dodge City plant. Work continues on the US$50m box distribution facility currently under construction. When complete, this addition will improve the operational efficiency and customer service levels at this location," the spokesperson stressed.

Drought conditions in the western states have hit food production in the US. According to a USDA report released in January, the US cattle herd shrank to a 63-year in 2013. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that the US inventory of cattle and calves totalled 87.7m on 1 January, down by 2% on the year.

The report stressed that this is the lowest January cattle inventory since 1951 and said it was the second straight year the herd shrank by 2%.