KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After studying all the alternatives and despite efforts by local officials, National Beef Packing Co. announced that it would go forward with plans to close the company's Brawley, Calif., beef processing plant.
"We have considered all of the alternatives, but unfortunately, the barriers to profitably operate the facility continue to exist," the company said in a statement. "Even with the proposed incentive package, the declining supply of fed cattle available for the Brawley facility remains the key driver of our decision to close the plant."
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors, Imperial Irrigation District (IID), the city of Brawley and the Imperial Valley cattle industry representatives formed an ad hoc committee to address the cattle supply, utility costs and regulatory compliance issues. The committee developed a proposal
they hoped would allow National Beef to keep the Brawley plant running.
The proposal included measures to increase the head of cattle per year during the next several years. IID and the city of Brawley also proposed utility rate reductions, while the city of Brawley proposed cuts National Beef’s water rate and utility tax, which would have saved the plant about $700,000 annually. Still, it wasn't enough to keep the plant open. The company plans to operate until the last day of production, which is currently scheduled for April 4, 2014.
“We truly regret the impact this may cause to our employees. Their loyalty and dedication has been remarkable, and we will be offering assistance to help them transition to other opportunities,” said Tim Klein, CEO of National Beef.
In a statement, National Beef thanked the city, state and county officials and other community leaders who helped develop the incentive package.
"The response was quick, thoughtful and well organized across many agencies," National Beef said. "We have listened to the feedback and are grateful to all who were involved in the effort to support the continued operation of the facility."
Approximately 1,300 employees will be affected by the closing. National Beef employs approximately 8,900 workers, and has operations in Kansas, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Missouri. The company processes and markets fresh beef, case-ready beef, beef byproducts and wet-blue leather for domestic and global markets.