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Long-time meat inspector to hang up his hard-hat

ADRIAN -- Ensuring the public a quality, wholesome food product has been a part of Don Shorter's life for more than 20 years.

A U.S.D.A. meat inspector, Shorter has traveled throughout southwest Minnesota -- inspecting everything from hogs and cattle to chickens and turkeys -- in plants stretching from Luverne to Marshall to Butterfield. He has even provided relief inspection service to plants as far away as Long Prairie.

"Everybody gets detailed out -- that's part of the job as meat inspector," said Shorter, who will retire on March 31, the day he turns 65.

Though Shorter has served as an inspector in many of the region's meat processing plants, his main job has been in Worthington, working first for Swift Independent, then Monfort and finally Swift & Co.

It was in Worthington, at then-Armour, that Shorter entered the meat processing business. He accepted a full-time job with Armour and went to work one day after the plant opened, on Sept. 22, 1964. His first job was on the cut floor trimming hams, working alongside fellow long-time Swift employees Pat Baumgartner, Darwin Sieve and Virgil Veen. All three of those men also retired, or are retiring, this spring.

Shorter, of Adrian, stayed with Armour until it closed its doors in 1983, and then opted to test with the federal government in hopes of finding work in the meat inspection side of the food industry.

Nine months later, and still no position with the U.S.D.A., Shorter returned to Worthington when Swift Independent reopened the plant. He worked for the company for six months before being hired as a meat inspector for the federal government.

The new job kept him busy at both Swift Independent and Campbell's Soup Co., for the first two or three years, and then he spent more and more of his time with Swift.

"It's a great job," he said, adding that when he started out as a meat inspector, he worked on the line, alongside the Swift employees he'd already come to know well because of his history with the Worthington plant. Eventually, Shorter worked his way up the ladder as a meat inspector, today working as a floor inspector -- checking both the product and the loads that leave the processing facility.

Though he's enjoyed the work over the years, Shorter said the one bad thing about the job is the rotating schedule -- they work four weeks days and four weeks nights.

"That was the tough part on the family," said Shorter, who with his wife, Carole, have five children and 13 grandchildren.

Spending more time with his family is something Shorter is looking forward to in retirement -- that and doing his favorite hobbies of fishing and golfing.

"I have a 1939 A John Deere that belonged to my grandfather that I plan to restore," Shorter said.

Facing his final week of work at Swift & Co., Shorter said he's going to miss those he's worked with for so many years.

"The people have been real good to work with," he added.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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