BRAWLEY – The news of the closing of National Beef April 4th has shocked the small town of Brawley and the entire Imperial Valley.
Rumors abound and many are wondering if there is a way to stop the closing of one of the largest employers in the Valley.
Citing the small supply of cattle for harvest production as the reason, National Beef spokesperson Keith Welty said they are sticking to this as the only reason.
“They are losing money,” said Welty. “This is what they have decided must be done.”
National Beef has had a history with the City of Brawley for their wastewater and compliance issues in which the Regional Water Control Board has fined the City. National Beef has paid these fines.
Energy costs have also skyrocketed for the beef processor.
The number of cattle is not there for National Beef to spread the costs over and they do not make the profit that they do in their other plants across the country.
A large cattle company in Arizona was sold and the cattle from that feedlot now go to a packing company in Arizona. This took 125,000 cattle out of National Beef’s supply.
Mesquite Feedlot President Paul Cameron said, “This is devastating news for our industry and for the Valley as a whole. It’s a $400 million part of our agriculture economy and 1200 plus people out of work in 2 months. The hardest things for me to do was sit in front of my 30 plus employees and tell them that I’m going to do everything I can to fight for their jobs and fight for our survival. We’re going to look at all of the alternatives. I’ve talked to every major packer in the country. We’re meeting with people, trying the best we can do to market our cattle, and keep our company viable.”
The City of Brawley, the Imperial Irrigation District, and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors are set to address the closure at their Tuesday meetings and hopefully come up with some solutions to avert the closing.
Even with lower utility costs, the issue of too few cattle still remains.
The city and county leaders have a history of working for solutions to keeping businesses viable in the Valley.
With the state’s economic woes, they are less willing to bend on fees and fines.
2014 has brought new regulations and the exodus of businesses continues out of California.