Johnstown cattle farmer works with JBS to bring steak to Greeley tables | TheFencePost.com

Johnstown cattle farmer works with JBS to bring steak to Greeley tables

Bridgett Weaver | Reporter

Jim Croissant said if he can't trust the handshake, he doesn't want to sign the contract. But with JBS, he has always felt confident giving the company his John Hancock.

"I know that's not how business is done anymore, but I do," he said.

Croissant is owner and general manager of Croissant Farms Inc., off Weld County Road 15 near Weld 54 just northwest of Johnstown.

As part of a JBS tour Tuesday for area journalists, he showed off his farm, which is the first step of the JBS operation.

Croissant is raising about 200 cattle, which will likely be sold to the Kuner feedlot, owned by JBS, later this year. After fattening them up at the feedlot, JBS crews will process the cows for beef.

Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS, said company officials want to be more transparent with the public. Officials opened the doors to all of the company's operations throughout the daylong tour.

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Croissant Farms is just one of many local producers that raises calves to send to feedlots and then to the JBS meatpacking plant so the rest of the world can enjoy cheeseburgers and steaks.

JBS SA bought the meatpacking plant in Greeley in 2007 and has since been growing its global market share. The U.S. branch of the company has the capacity to process 28,000 head of cattle in nine U.S. facilities per day.

The company as a whole, which includes a chicken and pork division, is the No. 2 global food company, second only to Nestle SA.

U.S. production makes up about 45 percent of the JBS global production.

JBS also is the largest cattle feeding operation in the world, feeding up to 1.2 million cattle per day.

The relationship between Croissant Farms and the local feedlots and meatpacking plants goes back to when they were owned by the Monforts, who started the industry in Greeley.

Despite the changing ownership throughout the years, Croissant said he's maintained a good relationship with the meatpacking plant, whether through Monfort, ConAgra or JBS.

"It was just a name change for us," he said. "The transition from Monfort to ConAgra to JBS has been a really smooth one because they've kept their main people."

The tour Tuesday helped drive home his point. Top executives of the Greeley JBS branch joined in, many of whom said they have been in the field since being hired 20 or 30 years ago.

Croissant said he isn't a big fan of turnover, so the fact JBS has continued with a lot of the same main players through changes increases his confidence in the brand. He's been dealing with the same buyer since he started years ago.

Steve Williams, head of cattle procurement for JBS USA, said company officials look for people just like Croissant when searching for producers.

"One of the things we really work on in procurement is relationships that stand the test of time," Williams said.

And Croissant is happy with the arrangement because, he said, JBS always pays him "top dollar" for his cattle.

Croissant signs a contract with JBS, promising to produce a certain number of cattle, which must all meet a certain criteria.

As the fourth generation of Croissants on the farm, the 60-year-old producer remembers feeding the cattle with his dad at just 5 years old. The farm started with his great grandfather, Peter. Then it went to his grandpa Henry, followed by his parents Leon and Viola.

Croissant moved home from college in 1978 and started working with his father. In '81, his brother Larry joined them, but only in time for Leon to retire in 1985. Together, Croissant and his brother ran the family farm until 1996, when his brother left.

He said he loved working with family members throughout the years, and he can't think of a better place to live.

Urban sprawl has him a little concerned, though, because some city folk don't quite understand the inner workings of a farm, he said.

"Most people don't understand that you've got to get a machine that only goes 20 miles per hour," from one field to the next, he said. "I'm not trying to hold you up."

Croissant said even though he's the last one in the family left managing the farm, he has four full-time employees, one of whom has been with him for more than 20 years.

"A local packer has been good to deal with," he said. "We felt they always treated us right." ❖

More about JBS

» JBS is the second largest food company in the world, with customers in more than 100 nations on five continents.

» In Colorado, JBS is the leading producer in both beef and lamb.

» 4,772 people are employed in Colorado by JBS, and 78,000 nationwide.

» The U.S. headquarters is in west Greeley with about 1,000 people are employed there.

» JBS USA Beef has a daily processing capacity of 28,000 heads per day in nine beef processing facilities in the U.S.

» The company has a 22 percent market share.

» JBS USA has six brands: Aspen Ridge, 1855 Black Angus Beef, Blue Ribbon Angus Beef, 5 Star, Cedar River Farms and Chef’s Exclusive.