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Raising the ‘steaks’ in Chaves County; Governor announces employment growth from beef plant

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

As of Wednesday, Chaves County now has an industrial meat processing facility, which Gov. Susana Martinez says is the first of its kind for New Mexico.

Gov. Susana Martinez visits with the public Wednesday afternoon following her announcement of 57 new jobs from USA Beef at the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

“At this point, it’s the only one,” Martinez told the Daily Record at the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation Wednesday afternoon. “We used to ship all our beef outside to have it processed and then returned.”

Areas where New Mexico beef would originally ship for processing included nearby states like Colorado.

According to Anthony Parra, deputy secretary for New Mexico’s Department of Agriculture, 99 percent of New Mexico cattle are sent four to seven hours away for processing.

“We need this type of activity,” Parra said. “Our industry needs this type of industry in the state.”

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Martinez said, “That’s why I think it’s going to grow.”

“We have a lot of cattle and cows,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really — I mean — this is an amazing idea.”

The governor also announced the creation of 57 new jobs as a result of USA Beef opening its new facility.

“And sometimes, it means more,” Martinez said. Because 57 jobs — it means more in smaller areas than it would in Albuquerque.”

The governor’s office said USA Beef is investing more than $5.4 million to renovate and open its new facility, allowing local dairies and cattle growers to process cattle locally and enabling them to get their products to market more efficiently.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department is investing $400,000 in Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds in USA Beef’s new facility. According to the governor’s office, LEDA is New Mexico’s closing fund, a tool that recruits new businesses to the state as well as help local businesses grow and thrive.

Governor Martinez fought to grow the closing fund to from almost nothing to $56 million when she took office.

“Thanks to Governor Martinez’ efforts to make New Mexico more business friendly and to grow the LEDA fund, we’re able to make our new facility a reality,” said Jose Madrid, CEO of USA Beef. “We’re proud to add new jobs in Chaves County and to bring much needed services to local dairy farmers and cattle growers.”

Martinez said the state has been working to bring more businesses to rural areas.

“But it’s not as noticeable,” Martinez explained. “So, what excites me is when we’re able to take a business, a manufacturing plant or a value-added plant to Deming, Silver City, Santa Teresa — Santa Teresa is exploding — and it was this sleepy little town when I first started.”

Martinez said she used to live in Doña Ana County.

“It is exploding with businesses,” she said. “So when we can take it to those kind of locations, it means that the same opportunities are available for those folks that live in rural areas and the urban areas.”

Martinez said a similar announcement will be made in a New Mexico area with a high unemployment rate.

“That’s what excites me,” she said. “We have to make sure we’re taking care of the rural areas as well. We love having them here in New Mexico period. But, if we can spread the jobs to different areas because of what they have to offer, agriculture, to be able to add that value to different kinds of foods, that’s awesome.”

The governor said the new facility in Chaves County offers the state a fortunate opening.

“There are parts of the world that want to have beef, but cannot have cattle because of their terrain,” Martinez said. “So, this is an amazing opportunity to be able to ship the beef within New Mexico and outside the country and the world.”

When asked on the chances of a horse slaughter plant coming to Roswell, Martinez said “none.”

“I think people of New Mexico have decided that horse-slaughtering is not what New Mexico is about, and will probably never approve,” she said. “Of course, it goes through USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) as well, and they, too, have not approved it. It’s part of our culture to have horses.”

Martinez referenced an 18-wheeler from Flagship Foods bearing the words “Hatch to table” along the side and “New Mexico True” on the back. Seeing those phrases go through different states makes her happy, she said.

“That travels from here, to California and back,” Martinez said. “They had just expanded a plant at Flagship Foods and — to see that sign — those 18-wheelers that are going back and forth to California for dropping off shipments of food, etc. I mean — you couldn’t be prouder.”

Madrid spoke after Martinez left the public with a sense of hope. He thanked Chaves County and everyone involved. He left a short statement with an honest, grateful smile.

“We’re going to make this a success,” Madrid said. “We’re open for business.”

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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