Efforts to keep National Beef plant open fall short
After weeks of deliberation, National Beef has officially announced its decision to shut down its Brawley processing facility, reports the Imperial Valley Press.
“We have considered all of the alternatives, but unfortunately, the barriers to profitably operate the facility continue to exist,” states a National Beef press release distributed Friday afternoon.
County officials had presented the company with an incentive package, which included lowered energy rates for the facility, in hopes that they would reverse their decision, but according to the release, the declining supply of fed cattle available for the Brawley facility was the key driver behind their decision to close the plant.
“We truly regret the impact this may cause to our employees. Their loyalty and dedication has been remarkable, and we will be offering assistance to help them transition to other opportunities,” said Tim Klein, chief executive officer, National Beef.
The Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders Group said that it had been working with National Beef Packing Co. to prevent the closing of its Brawley processing facility on April 4.
The local feeders offered in excess of $9 million in additional cattle price discounts for years 2014 and 2015. The discount was in addition to the $15 million of discounts previously given National Beef on Jan. 1, 2013. Annual discounts beyond $24 million would put local feeders at a disadvantage when trying to compete with other markets, according to Bill Brandenberg, of the Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders (IVCF) Group.
“National lost a stable supply of cattle from Arizona and some IVCF members had plans to increase their supplies but those plans are now on hold. Imperial Valley cattle numbers are at 25-30 year highs. Valley feeders understand National's need for more cattle and are ready to accommodate those needs to the best of their abilities,” Brandenberg said.
The feeders said they appreciated all of the extraordinary efforts made by Imperial County, City of Brawley, Imperial Irrigation District, Senator Ben Hueso, Assemblyman Manuel Perez, the Governor’s office, the Regional Water Quality Board and other stakeholders who worked with National Beef to try and keep its plant open.
“We owe it to the Imperial Valley community, the plant’s 1,300 employees, and our own feed yard employees to continue looking at all options,” Brandenberg said.
Source: Imperial Valley Press, Imperial Valley Cattle Feeders Group