GORDON, Neb. – An existing but shuttered meat-packing plant in Gordon, Neb., plans to reopen by the end of 2013. The facility will operate strictly as a beef processing facility with no rendering plant. The plant ultimately plans to process 250 head of cattle per day. Specialty meats such as buffalo and organic and natural beef products will also be offered, plus the re-opened facility plans to sell or custom slaughter local cattle.
An agreement was recently reached by the city of Gordon and First Bank Business Capital in St. Louis, Mo., to sell the facility to Open Range Beef, an investment group registered in the Omaha area. The Gordon plant has been on the sales block for several years. From June 2006 until 2008, this facility operated as a kosher plant until its owners were convicted of fraud in their Agriprocessors packing plant operation located in Postville, Iowa, according to The Fence Post.
During a 2009 trustee sale, the city of Gordon and First Bank Business Capital acquired the Gordon facility and its equipment. Gordon had a lien on the land because the former owners didn’t meet the terms of a $500,000 state economic development grant. First Bank Business Capital, Inc. had a lien on the plant’s equipment.
Unlike large plants that process between 1,500 and 3,000 head per day, the Gordon packing plant will take 200 to 250 animals each day, said Fred Hlava, Gordon city manager. This will give the plant the flexibility to change operation modes at any given time, which means they can do custom slaughtering. He added that economies-of-scale in larger plants prevents them from reorganizing processing activities to accommodate specialty meats.
Now that the Aberdeen, SD-based Northern Beef Packers packing plant has recently shut down, the next closest packing plants for livestock producers in the Gordon area are in Lexington and Hastings, Neb., and Fort Morgan, Colo.
“Securing $3 to $4 million necessary for plant operations in a volatile beef market has been problematic with the state of the banking industry after 2008,” Hlava said. “Members of Open Range Beef investment group have the financial depth and more than 60 years of combined beef-processing experience, as well as a successful business history.”