The public has 30 days to review and comment on a draft permit regarding wastewater runoff from a proposed beef packing plant in Chaves County.
Jose Madrid, owner of USA Beef Packing LLC, published the public notice Thursday regarding the draft permit to discharge up to 8,000 gallons of processed wastewater a day from the planned beef slaughterhouse and processing operations at 3845 Cedarvale Road, east of Roswell.
The business, which will receive up to $400,000 in state Local Economic Development Act funds if it meets certain private investment and hiring criteria, expects to be operating within weeks, Madrid said at a May 24 community meeting. He said the plant should be able to process 150 head a day.
The operation will not involve horse slaughters, which are prohibited in New Mexico.
“This project and this industry is going to support our largest industry,” said John Mulcahy, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., referring to the area dairy industry.
There are no beef slaughterhouses now, requiring cattle producers and dairies to send their head up to four hours away, said Madrid, who said he has been in the industry for 28 years and is also the owner of an equipment company in El Paso.
According to a New Mexico Agricultural Statistics report by the New Mexico State University Chaves County Cooperative Extension Service, Chaves County had 21,500 head of cattle in 2013 and 79,000 dairy cows, which produced more than 2 billion pounds of milk.
Some business and agribusiness leaders at the May 24 meeting expressed their support for USA Beef Packing.
The permit announcement indicates that the wastewater will be discharged to an impoundment system lined with a synthetic material. The waste then will be disposed of through evaporation. Nitrogen compounds are among the known elements of the waste, and groundwater in the area exists about 10 feet below the surface.
According to the New Mexico Environment Department information, the public now has 30 days to review the permit and make comments. If the state considers it necessary, a public hearing would be held before the Environment Department makes a final decision.
Madrid said he expects to hire 15 to 20 people initially at the 132,000-square-foot facility, with the majority of jobs paying about $12 an hour. The LEDA funding requires that the company hire at least 57 full-time employees and make $5 million in private capital investment by March 2021.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.