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Business leaders: Beef packing needed for area

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A new beef packing plant will contribute $336 million to the local economy during the next 10 years, according to the head of the local economic development group.
USA Beef Packing LLC is expected to contribute that much in terms of the impact of wages and benefits alone, said John Mulcahy, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.
Other contributions would include expected cost-savings to dairies or beef producers, which now must send their cows and cattle four hours away for slaughter and processing.
Mulcahy and USA Beef Packing owner Jose Madrid talked to a group of about 30 people Wednesday evening at the economic development group’s offices as part of the permitting and review process necessary to allow the plant to become operational.
Madrid, who has been in the industry for 28 years and owns an equipment company, Deprisa, in El Paso, said he hopes to have the beef processing plant open in a matter of weeks. The draft agreement with the state governing the $400,000 in state Local Economic Development Act funds available to the business indicates it needs to open by the end of September and to employ 57 full-time people by 2021.
Mulcahy said that the plant is needed to serve the dairies, as well as beef producers in the area. The first emphasis is on dairies, however.
“This project and this industry is going to support our largest industry,” said Mulcahy, adding that dairies in the county have revenues of $413 million and produce 1.8 billion pounds of milk a year. The New Mexico’s industry is the ninth largest in the nation, he said, but employs relatively few people compared to other states.
Madrid and his daughter, Idali Madrid, gave a presentation about the improvements and technological enhancements made to the existing 132,000-square-foot plant at 3845 Cedarvale Ave., saying that the plant should be able to process 150 cows or cattle a day.
He said U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors are required to be present at all times of operation to ensure not only meat safety but also humane treatment of animals.
A wastewater discharge plan regarding how processed water from the operations will be handled will be available to the public for review and comment June 9, said Nancy McDuffie of the New Mexico Environment Department Groundwater Quality Bureau.
Job descriptions and applications are available with the Workforce Connection Center, with Madrid saying that he expects that he will hire 15 to 20 people initially.
Two local businessmen expressed their support for the plans.
“I think Chaves County has long wanted to see value-added agriculture here, so we welcome you to our community,” said Phelps Anderson.
Kyle “Smiley” Wooton said he remembered a time when there were numerous beef processing plants in the area and welcomes the return of one to the county.
“The livestock is still here. The ranchers are here. The dairies are here,” he said, adding that he only had one question, “What is the hold up?”
Mulcahy said that he worries about controversies many years ago over a planned horse slaughtering operation — which ended when a court ruling banned commercial horse slaughters in the state — had caused some delays, but that he and Madrid are hopeful that the business will receive its permits quickly and begin operations soon.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.