By MATTHEW WEAVER
A rancher-led slaughter facility in Odessa, Wash., is slated to open in mid-June.
Construction of the Livestock Processors Cooperative Association slaughter house is on time and on budget, said Sue Lani Madsen, project manager for the Odessa Public Development Authority.
Wiring and plumbing is under way at the $1.7 million facility. Equipment will be installed in early May.
Tally Ross, a University of Idaho graduate and former AB Foods, LLC, employee, was hired as plant manager, beginning May 1. She ran UI's meat lab for a year, filling in for the manager.
"For a young lady, she's got a lot of experience," said Willard Wolf, president of the association. Ross knows the segments of operating the plant, and has a lot of experience with the rules and regulation for federal inspection, Wolf said.
The kill-floor manager has also been hired. The LPCA is working to fill several other positions. Madsen expects four or five full-time workers to be hired, with some additional part-time positions.
There are currently 77 members in the association, Madsen said.
"We're where we'd like to be," she said. "I'd start to feel uncomfortable if we got over 100 because then I'd think we need to build a second plant."
The plant is designed for a daily capacity of the equivalent of 20 head of cattle per day, with the freezer capacity for a 40-head load one day a week, with scheduling.
Madsen said the plant has already confirmed demand for two full days a week for both hogs and cattle. She expects increased demand in the spring as the plant progresses.
"We've lost so much of that mid-sized infrastructure that used to be able to serve the mid-sized ranches," she said, pointing to industry pressure for larger facilities, aging infrastructure or regulatory pressures.
Madsen will represent the association at the Slow Money national conference April 29 in Boulder, Colo., talking about the facility as a possible prototype to reintroduce mid-sized facilities throughout the nation. Madsen said other areas have inquired about opening a plant in their region.