Photo courtesy: https://www.carsonjorgensen.com/
Q: You recently sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Utah congressional delegation; can you elaborate on those efforts?
On Saturday, our family caught wind of the Mountain States-Rosen lamb processing plant being acquired by JBS in Greeley, CO through a bankruptcy auction. JBS plans to stop lamb processing and switch the plant to strictly beef. They will take possession of the plant on July 31st, so it was imperative to go straight to the top if there’s any chance of getting this acquisition stopped.
Q: Was it known that JBS was a threat to this lamb processing plant?
JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, somewhat influenced the situation before the processing plant went to bankruptcy auction on July 16th. Going into the bankruptcy auction, it was known that the company would be bidding on the plant. JBS was successful at the auction purchasing the plant for $14.25 million, only outbidding other contenders by $200,000.
Before the processing plant went to auction, the judge should’ve taken into account that this would cost the sheep industry $150 million to $200 million just this year. Not to mention the large number of farmers and ranchers this acquisition will put out of business.
Q: Has the sheep industry had issues of packer concentration in recent years?
The industry has always had enough packer capacity to manage the volume of lambs to be processed. The Mountain States plant represents approximately one fifth of the market. If this plant does end up closing, the impacts will be felt all throughout the industry.
Q: What will happen to the sheep industry if Mountain States-Rosen processing plant is acquired by JBS?
A significant amount of folks in the sheep industry will be forced out of business. Sheep buyers won’t buy lambs because there is literally nowhere for those animals to be processed.
Q: Are there any additional comments you’d like to make about the Mountain States processing plant?
Many folks have been saying that the sheep industry was on its way out anyways, but if you think this problem stops at sheep you’ve got another thing coming. This is not a problem that is just going to stay with the sheep industry. JBS will go after beef next, then pork, and then chicken.
Q: Do you have any closing statements you’d like to make about the sheep industry and the industry’s issues?
In 1950 there was 56 million sheep in the U.S. and today there is only 6 million sheep. We’ve slowly let the packing industry take producers out of the game.
The protein industries need to come together and push back against this problem of packer concentration because it spans across all protein industries.
I want to see ranchers come together to fight for a common cause, for American agriculture, to put America first. This problem might start in the sheep industry, but it won’t end here.