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Traci Eatherton
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New Idaho beef process plant offers solution to producers across the Midwest

"We haven't just created jobs here, we've built long-term careers with skills training and advancement opportunities that are going to boost the local economy," said Tom Basabe, president of Simplot Land and Livestock. Photo courtesy CS Beef Packers

A new beef processing plant, in Kuna, Idaho, is up and running, just two years after the construction began on the $100 million joint-venture. Announced in 2015, by partners Caviness Beef Packers and J.R. Simplot Co., the 370,000-square-foot facility is capable of processing up to 1,700 head per day and is adding 700 jobs to the community.

"When Caviness and Simplot team up, you know they won't be cutting corners," said Jerald Raymond, Idaho Cattlemen's president. "It's going to be a benefit, not just locally, but regionally."

According to a press release, the plant is an overdue solution for producers challenged by the location of processing facilities, requiring them to transport livestock hundreds of miles. The plant also includes hide and rendering processing, and will process niche-fed beef programs.

"It's very impressive," Raymond said of the plant, adding that there will be benefits to the community, producers, consumers and most of the Midwest.

"Our closest full-scale processing plant is out of state. So, it's going to eliminate some freight costs for producers. It's going to be good for the community. It's going to be good for the consumers," Raymond said.

The partnership, formed in January 2015, had a November 2016 goal in mind for completion, but missed the mark by a few months. And better late than never for the estimated 600,000 dairy cows and over 600,000 beef cows in the region.

"This partnership is an opportunity to combine Caviness Beef's leadership in the meat packing industry with Simplot's long-standing status as a leader in agriculture," said Terry Caviness, CEO of Caviness Beef, in a news release. "Together we will help fill a void in the West by providing ranchers and dairy farmers with a state-of-the-art beef processing plant."

"We haven't just created jobs here, we've built long-term careers with skills training and advancement opportunities that are going to boost the local economy," said Tom Basabe, president of Simplot Land and Livestock, in the news release.

Caviness Beef Packers has been family owned and operated for over 50 years and is currently led by second and third generation family members. Since 1962, Caviness has remained one of the most relationship-oriented companies in the beef industry. The business has grown from harvesting a handful of cattle, in the early days, to 1,700 head processed each day. Today, the company operates two processing locations and markets products worldwide.

The J.R. Simplot Company was started by an energetic entrepreneur in 1929, and grew from a one-man farming operation into a food and agribusiness empire.

The company's vertical integration — seed production, farming, ranching, cattle feeding, fertilizer manufacturing, frozen-food processing and food brands and distribution — has nurtured a diverse array of internal talents and resources, creating a symbiosis that few other organizations achieve.

The pillars of the organization — Passion for People, Spirit of Innovation, and Respect for Resources — are as relevant now as they were when a young Jack Simplot began his long journey toward remarkable success, the company website reads.

— Eatherton is a freelance writer from Beaulah, Wyo. When she's not writing, she's riding her horse or playing with her grandson. She can be reached at teatherton@msn.com.