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Beef slaughterhouse begins test processing; Owner says there are plans to open facility to customers within a month

USA Beef Packing on Cedarvale Road is now processing cattle on a "test" basis, according to its owner. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the facility for slaughtering and processing beef. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The new beef packing and slaughterhouse in Chaves County has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin processing cattle, so the company is in test mode right now.

The company owner said the plan is to open for customers in two to four weeks.
Jose Madrid, owner of USA Beef Packing LLC, located in the former Pecos Valley Meat facility at 3845 Cedarvale Road east of Roswell, said that the company has received conditional approval of its groundwater discharge permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. A spokesperson with the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA also confirmed that the company had received its “grant of inspection” earlier this week.
That USDA action authorizes the facility to function as a federal slaughterhouse and sell its beef products. By law, a USDA inspector must be present at all times animals are on site. Inspectors also check packaged items for safety standards prior to shipping, according to USDA documents.
Madrid said that the eight or so employees of the plant are now testing the renovated plant and its equipment by slaughtering and packing beef, with local cattle and cow owners providing about 30 head.
“We are in our testing phases right now,” Madrid said, “just trying to get the kinks worked out.”
Madrid, who has worked in the beef packing industry for about 28 years and also owns an equipment company in El Paso, will receive up to $400,000 in state Local Economic Development Act funding for the plant.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department funding, administered by Chaves County, is to be used to upgrade, improve and expand the 130,000-square-foot existing plant. The funding requires the business to meet certain hiring and capital investment goals by March 2021.
Madrid said that he plans to hire an additional 20 people or so after opening.
According to a public meeting held May 24, the company expects to contribute $336 million to the area economy during the next 10 years. USA Beef Packing also expects to slaughter and process up to 150 head of cattle a day, or up to 54,750 a year. Regional dairies will be its primary customers, but it also intends to work with cattle producers and owners in New Mexico and west Texas. In 2012, there were 318,878 dairy cows in New Mexico and 75,951 in Chaves County, according to a USDA Census of Agriculture report.
USA Beef Packing is the only federally authorized beef slaughterhouse in southeastern New Mexico. The USDA directory lists another meat slaughterhouse in northern New Mexico, but it was unknown by press time if the business handled beef.
Madrid said that his company has met with support since announcing in March its intentions to open and the state funding. At the May meeting, local business people said they welcomed the business.
“I believe everybody has been very supportive and happy that it is opening. We have received a lot of good comments for our product (boxed beef),” he said. “We are trying very hard to make this a successful venture.”
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.