BOISE, IDAHO – Officials from Agri Beef Co. confirmed plans on July 31, to build a new beef processing plant as part of a partnership with cattle producers in the region around Jerome, Idaho. The partnership, known as True West Beef, is based on a strategy that provides a beef-processing solution to recent production interruptions that challenged many companies in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to Agri Beef, "True West Beef is designed as an alternative model in the beef processing segment where large facilities have come to dominate the industry. It will be smaller and flexible in scale and unique in structure, with livestock producers directly involved in equity ownership."
The project was presented to economic developers representing the city of Jerome earlier this year. Agri Beef owns and operates the Washington Beef plant in Toppenish, Wash., about 450 miles northwest of Jerome. Agri Beef, which produces beef products under the Snake River Farms, Double R Ranch and St. Helens brands, added ground beef production with an expansion at its facility in 2013. No timeline was given for the True West Beef plant project.
"We evaluated many sites for this venture," said Wade Small, executive vice president of business development with Agri Beef. "With an educated and motivated workforce, access to plentiful agricultural resources, and a vibrant community with a can-do spirit, Jerome and Idaho checked the box for everything we were looking for."
The new plant, which will have a capacity of about 500 head per day and is expected to create about 370 new jobs, will operate with the same mission of producing high quality, sustainable beef that has given Agri Beef and its partners a reputation for excellence in the industry and the communities it works in, said Jay Theiler, executive vice president of strategy and public relations.
"True West Beef will be a great neighbor, community-involved and environmentally friendly. We want Jerome to be proud," Mr. Theiler said.
"COVID-19 presented challenges in the meat packing sector as plants struggled with capacity constraints due to the pandemic," said Idaho Governor Brad Little. "The United States needs more meat processors of all sizes, and Idaho is thrilled to welcome expanded and first-class processing capacity to address this critical infrastructure need. This plant adds tremendous value to our high-quality Idaho beef and supports family ranches, dairies and farms."