Fremont, Neb., home of meatpacking plants for Hormel and Fremont Beef, has passed a law that bans hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants, setting itself up for a likely court challenge. Already, the American Civil Liberties Union has promised to file a lawsuit to block enforcement of the law, reports the Associated Press.

The Fremont measure will require would-be renters to apply for a license from the city. Officials must refuse to issue a license to applicants found to be in the country illegally. The ordinance also requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify database to ensure employees are allowed to work.

The city, which is about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, has watched as its Hispanic population surged in the past two decades, largely due to the jobs available at the nearby Fremont Beef and Hormel meatpacking plants. The city’s Hispanic population is estimated to be more than 2,000 people in a town of 25,000.

Supporters of the bill argued that the city should not be supporting illegal immigrants, and jobs and community resources should not be going to them. Opponents contend that the law may be discriminatory, and pointed out that Fremont’s unemployment levels are well below the national rate.

Source: AP

Agriprocessors plant manager sentenced to 27 years

Sholom Rubashkin, the former day-to-day manager of the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 years in federal prison, reportsThe Iowa Independent.

Rubashkin was convicted last fall of 86 counts of fraud, including money laundering and mail, wire and bank fraud charges. The charges stem from a 2008 immigration raid at the Postville facility that led to more than 300 workers being detained.

Last November, a South Dakota jury concluded that Rubashkin ordered employees to create bogus financial documents to collect advances on a revolving loan. He was more recently acquitted on 67 misdemeanor counts of violations of child labor law.

The sentence was two years more than prosecutors has requested, reports the New York Times. Rubashkin’s lawyers have already announced they will appeal the decision, challenging the interpretation of federal sentencing guidelines by Judge Linda R. Reade.

“There was no bank robbery, he never intended to cheat or steal from anyone,” said Guy Cook, Rubashkin’s defense lawyer. Cook said the term was “essentially a life sentence” for Rubashkin, who is 51, and was especially difficult for his 10 children, one of whom is autistic.

To date, 10 members of Agriprocessors management or office staff have been convicted on federal charges in the wake of the immigration raid. Only two defendants in the case have not faced prosecution: Hosam Amara and Zeev Levi. Both men are believed to have fled the country to avoid prosecution and are considered fugitives.

Source: The Iowa Independent, New York Times

Jobbers Packing issues statement on injured worker

Jobbers Meat Packing has issued a statement through the National Meat Association about the accident that took place at the facility over the weekend. A worker cleaning a grinder lost both of his legs below the knee when the machine turned on. Investigators are still trying to determine how the accident happened.

The statement reads: “Marty Evanson, CEO and major owner of Jobbers Meat Packing Co. in Vernon, CA, is shocked and devastated by the terrible accident by one of his workers early Saturday morning, June 19. The worker was taken by emergency officers to the local hospital, and is undergoing treatment. Mr. Evanson visited with him and his family at the hospital over the weekend.

“An investigation is on-going into how the accident occurred.

“Mr. Evanson, out of respect for the victim and his family, has declined to identify the worker, but has stated he was a longtime employee, having worked for the company for 17 years. Evanson said, ‘We will do everything possible to provide remedial support for this fine worker. This is a terrible blow to all of our managers and his co-workers at Jobbers Meat Packing where we take worker safety very seriously.’”

Source: NMA

NAMP offers suggestions on in-plant validation guidance

The North American Meat Processors Association has submitted written comments to FSIS on the draft guidance on HACCP validation, giving specific suggestions on ways to improve its usefulness to small and very small meat and poultry processors.

NAMP also offered to work with FSIS to provide additional resources to these companies, writing: “We fully support the initiative to provide resources for small and very small establishments, and we hope that by working together with the industry, this goal can be accomplished. “

Suggestions included:
* Narrow the focus of the draft guidance to make it more useful to the industry.
* Clarify that FSIS is providing the information in the document as a resource for small and very small plants - and that there has not been a change in the agency policy on validation.
* Write the document in language that is clear and concise.
* Consider the impact the DG could have on a small company.
* Establish safe harbors for widely accepted processes.
* Recognize that the current DG does not provide enough actual guidance for a small or very small processor.
* Provide more information for sections of the draft guidance that address issues for which no definite resources exist.
* Recognize that processes should follow supporting documents closely, but may not need to follow them exactly.
* Re-think what is expected in the validation of some pre-requisite programs.
* Clearly state establishments only need to validate one plan per HACCP category.
* Upon publication of the final document, hold joint training/information sessions for both industry and inspection personnel.

These written comments follow up on comments made last Monday at the FSIS public meeting by Executive Director Phil Kimball CAE. In addition, the NAMP Executive Committee and staff will meet with FSIS leaders to explain NAMP’s views in further detail.

Source: NAMP

Protein Solutions gets $7.8 million investment

Advantage Capital Partners announced that it has provided $7.8 million in financing to Protein Solutions, a processor and distributor of portion-controlled meat products. The company employs 375 people and operates a state-of-the-art, USDA-certified facility on the near southwest side of Chicago. Protein Solutions will use the funds to further position itself for continued growth.

"We have a stable, diversified base of customers and a strong awareness of consumer needs," said Bill Kulach, CEO of Protein Solutions, a thirty-year veteran in the meat processing industry. "The investment comes at the right time for our company and will allow us to increase our investment in R&D efforts, developing new products for our customers. We have a new state-of-the-art facility which currently operates at 50 percent capacity. We have ample room for growth and intend on utilizing it for additional volume."

"I am pleased to see the Illinois New Markets Development program enabling growth capital for Protein Solutions," said Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago). "In seven years, the company has become a significant employer in the state, providing 375 good jobs to Illinois workers and quality products to consumers." Illinois Representative Dan Burke (D-Chicago) added, "I am delighted that a business in my district has benefitted from the New Markets Development program, allowing it to continue to grow and develop jobs in the community."

"The Illinois New Markets Development program investment in Protein Solutions is a positive step for the company, the community where it is located and the hundreds of people who work there," said Jeremy Degenhart, a principal at Advantage Capital Partners. "Our firm is very encouraged by the company’s performance over the last few years, including the development of an impressive customer base."

Protein Solutions is a custom protein processor specializing in portioning beef, pork and poultry products. Protein Solutions distributes its products to restaurants, distributors and food wholesale customers across the country.

"The company has demonstrated tremendous growth in its short seven-year history, growing on its own cash resources," said Timothy Reiter, president of Protein Solutions and newest member of the executive team with more than 20 years in the food processing industry. "The funding provided by Advantage Capital through the New Markets program will elevate our ability to expand into other channels and be more strategic in our procurement strategy, which will ultimately benefit our customers."

Advantage Capital provided financing in connection with the Illinois New Markets Development program and the federal New Markets Tax Credit program. Both programs are designed to stimulate economic growth in communities that historically have been underserved by traditional sources of capital.

Source: Advantage Capital Partners

Arby's adds Chief Innovative Officer position

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. announced the appointment of Warren Chang to the newly created position of Chief Innovation Officer for Taste, Quality and the Customer Experience.

Reporting directly to Arby’s President Hala Moddelmog, Chang will be responsible for leading innovation and change initiatives in the areas of product development, quality improvement and the customer experience.

He brings more than 30 years of restaurant and retail experience to the new position, including, most recently, service as president of Carino’s Italian – a 140-unit chain of casual dining restaurants headquartered in Austin, Texas. Chang’s extensive background includes strategic brand planning, research and development, marketing and advertising, while working for some of the world’s leading brands, including McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, Applebee’s and Frito-Lay.

Like Moddelmog, who was named Arby’s President in May, Chang has prior Arby’s experience, leading both the brand’s restaurant marketing and menu and product development from 1994 to 1998.

“Warren brings a wealth of restaurant experience to the Arby’s leadership team. His appointment is another example of the decisive steps we’re taking to reinvigorate the Arby’s brand, improve same-store sales and grow profits,” said Moddelmog. “Our goal is to add new energy and focus to Arby’s ability to connect to our customers’ needs and accelerate our speed to market with innovative, high quality products.”

Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc.