Beef processor looks to expand to Idaho
JEROME, Idaho — A Draper, Utah, beef processing company that’s been in the business for more than 60 years is setting its sights on Jerome as the location of a new processing facility.
Dale T. Smith & Sons Meat Packing Co. is working with an engineer to navigate the permitting process and determine if the prospective site is suitable, said Dale Smith, co-owner.
The plan is for a $7.5 million, 25,000-square-foot building that would create approximately 100 jobs in its first year of operation and process about 300 cattle a day, he said.
Releasing details of the operation is a little premature, he said, as the permitting process would take a few more months and opening would likely be 1 1/2 years out.
If the Jerome project moves forward, it would be under the leadership of third-generation family processor Jeff Smith and would not involve other members of the family connected with the Draper facility, he said
The plan is to keep the Draper facility open, he said.
Future plans could include closing the Draper plant, but the company is taking things one step at a time, and future business decisions will depend on the company’s cattle supply and markets, he said.
The company already sources cattle from the Magic Valley, which is the purpose in considering a facility in the area, he said.
The company is doing its due diligence to be sure everything works out on the site, farm land at 700 north and Highway 93, said Matt Thompson, owner of engineering firm AgTec, which was hired by Smith & Sons.
Assuming the site does work out, the company will seek a special use permit from Jerome County in the next three or four months and purchase the property if it can secure the county permit, he said.
“Anytime we get more industry and jobs created, it’s a good thing,” said Jared Brackett, a Three Creek rancher and president of the Idaho Cattle Association.
The proposed facility is smaller than the large processing facilities in the Midwest, but it’s large for Idaho, which no longer has any large, commercial slaughter plants, he said.
Idaho’s fat cattle are currently trucked to Utah or Washington state for processing and cull cattle are hauled to Arizona or California. Producers selling directly to the plant should see a higher price for their cattle and a hauling-cost savings of at least $50 to $60 a head, he said.
“The bottom line is there should be more money in producers’ pockets,” he said.
A local supply of meat could also mean a lower price to consumers, he said.
Jerome County Planning and Zoning Administrator Art Brown said he hasn’t spoken with anyone from Smith & Sons and has received no applications for any permit from the company.
But the engineer or consultant could be looking into what other permits might be needed. That could include working with the fire district, highway department, canal company, environmental agencies and others, he said.