County commissioners have approved an application by J.R. Simplot Co. and its partner to build the 300,000-square-foot beef processing plant.
The plant must still receive approval from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality before construction can begin. Its site is 82 acres at 17365 S. Cole Road on the plot northeast of the intersection of Cole and Barker roads.
The plant is a joint venture of Simplot and Caviness Meat Packers of Amarillo, Texas. The venture will operate as CS Beef Packers. Hailey-based Power Engineers, which specializes in engineering and coordinating construction on plants producing energy, food or beverages, will lead the project. Schmeeckle Brothers Construction Co., based in Fort Morgan, Colo., will build the seven-building, $100 million plant.
Simplot says the plant will employ up to 600 workers and process up to 1,700 head of cattle per day from dairies and ranches from around the Northwest. It will produce meat cuts, but not hamburger, that will be sold to retailers and food-service suppliers.
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During a public hearing Wednesday, Wyatt Prescott, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association, said Idaho cattle growers and dairymen pay between $100 and $200 per head to ship cows to slaughterhouses around the country. The Kuna plant would cut that expense to a fraction, he said.
“We would love to keep that business in the state of Idaho,” Prescott told commissioners. “The Idaho cattle industry is very excited to have a harvesting facility here.”
Kuna Mayor Greg Nelson testified in support of the plant, calling it “one of the biggest occurrences to support agriculture in our state in a long time.”
“This will help our cattle industry,” Nelson said. “It will help our markets. It will help our economy, and it will certainly help the economy of Kuna.”