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New Idaho beef plant adds local option for producers

A beef plant that opened in southern Idaho earlier this year gives the area’s dairy producers a local option on where to send their cows. Dairy producers had to typically ship their cows to out-of-state plants as Idaho had lacked large commercial slaughter and packing facilities.

The Ida-Beef facility in Burley harvests more than 100 cows per day, but it’s designed to eventually process 350 to 400 cows each day, The Times-News reported May 3.

CS Beef Packers opened a larger plant in Kuna last year to serve both the dairy and beef industries. Then in January, the Burley facility opened.

“We’re pleased to see the investment and the infrastructure that supports the beef end of what we do,” said Rick Naerebout, CEO of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

With beef processing available to southern Idaho, Ida-Beef said it should save dairies on freight costs. The company said the local option should also reduce the stress on the animals as travel is shorter.

Dairy cows are usually sent to slaughter as they approach old age.

“As they get older, they’re going to be less and less productive,” Naerebout said. “All of agriculture runs on very tight margins.”

Dairy cows produce lean ground beef that’s often used in hamburger patties, sausages and hot dogs. Some of the higher quality cuts could end up in restaurants or as choice cuts at the grocery store, Ida-Beef Plant Manager William Gilger said.

Many of the inedible parts of cows are sent to a rendering plant or used to make other products like leather.

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