GORDON, Nebraska — New owners have opened a new meatpacking operation inside a former kosher beef slaughterhouse in northwest Nebraska.
Open Range Beef launched its operation Wednesday at the former Local Pride plant in Gordon, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1caRG3o ).
The Local Pride operation closed in September 2008 because of legal and financial problems tied to its sister facility, Agriprocessors, in eastern Iowa. Agriprocessors declared bankruptcy, and Sholom Rubashkin, a top executive at the Iowa plant, was sentenced in 2009 to 27 years for financial fraud.
The city of Gordon acquired the Nebraska plant and sold it in June to Open Range Beef, a company registered in Bellevue.
The newly opened plant is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and has 100 employees. After a training period, the 36,000-square-foot plant is poised to process between 250 and 300 heads of cattle each day, Open Range Beef co-owner Pat Shudak said.
The plant will also serve as a local hub for custom slaughtering and will offer processing for specialty meat, such as buffalo, organic and natural beef products.
Shudak said the company will look to local cattle feeders to supply USDA-graded cattle.
"This is our home," Shudak told the newspaper. "We're excited to be a part of this community and plan to be around here for a long time."
The plant's opening follows the recent closure of an Aberdeen, South Dakota, packing plant that forced many Gordon-area producers to travel as far as Lexington, Hastings and Fort Morgan, Colorado, to process livestock.
Gordon City Manager Fred Hlava said the Open Range plant will not only boost the local property tax base and offer better prices to local producers, but also provide jobs for local residents in the coming years.
Plans are already in the works to expand the plant's cooler space in the future and add 175 more jobs, Shudak said.
Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com