Mountain States co-op takes over JBS’s Greeley Lamb Plant | TheFencePost.com

Mountain States co-op takes over JBS’s Greeley Lamb Plant

Bridgett Weaver

Brad Boner, Frank Moore, Jay Hasbrouck and Dennis Stiffler all stand outside of the lamb plant shortly after Mountain States Lamb Co-op took over Tuesday morning. The four men are part of the Mountain States board.

The start of the shift on Jan. 5 marked the first day of operation for Mountain States Lamb Cooperative's lamb plant in northeast Greeley.

The co-op purchased the Greeley lamb slaughter plant from JBS USA at the end of last year.

"The first kill started at 7 a.m.," said Frank Moore, chairman of the co-op, which is under the Mountain States Rosen LLC umbrella.

The co-op, based in Douglas, Wyo., had purchased the other half of the lamb operation — fabrication — in 2008.

“Now that we own the kill plant, we have control of our product all the way from the ranch. It does change when you have both sides.”

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The JBS plant slaughtered the animals and then turned them over to fabrication for further processing.

"Now that we own the kill plant, we have control of our product all the way from the ranch," Moore said. "It does change when you have both sides."

A purchase price was not released, but the deal was for the property, plus the buildings and all the assets at the plant. The co-op will share the JBS plant's wastewater and steam systems.

About 80 percent of the U.S. lambs are finished at feedlots in Weld County, and about 28 percent of U.S. lamb production comes out of the Greeley plant.

The Greeley plant employs about 250 people, and operations are expected to remain the same for the time being. Co-op officials do plan to expand the plant in the future, but no plans are in place yet.

About four hours in, Moore said the first day was going well.

"We tried to meet with both sides and let them know that their job descriptions aren't changing," Moore said.

When the sale went public in November, JBS spokesman Cameron Bruett said the sale was an easy decision for JBS.

It is the small sector of the food production giant, which is known mostly for beef production.

"The U.S. lamb business was truly a niche category for JBS USA that presented limited opportunities for growth," he said in November. "We think it's a good transaction for both parties and Mountain States will have the opportunity to adopt a fully integrated model."

Moore said working with JBS was not a problem, but that this was the absent connection in production for the Mountain States Lamb Co-op.

"Since the co-op's inception, this has been our missing link," Moore said. "Now we will have the same goals (in both plants), to get a quality, consistent product through to the consumer." ❖

For more information

For more information about the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative, go to http://www.mslamb.com.