CONSUMER

‘We are going to feed American beef to the Americans’: Meat packing plant to open in Richfield

Feb 22, 2024, 6:29 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2024, 10:05 am

RICHFIELD — A new cattle processing plant in central Utah is expected to improve the state’s food supply chain.

“You bet I feel pressure,” Henry Barlow said. “I don’t sleep well, but it’s OK.”

Barlow is the owner of Utah Beef Producers, and his new meat packing plant based in Richfield is opening up in March, just in time as the cattle industry could use more processing plants.

Utah Beef Producers sign

Henry Barlow’s Utah Beef Producers plant will open next month. (Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)

“We are going to bring cattle in from the west, and we are going to harvest them, and we are going to feed American beef to the Americans,” Barlow said. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, meat shortages began to happen, not because of the lack of cattle, but because of the lack of packing plants. Many of the plants closed during the pandemic.

Barlow said it opened his eyes and knew something needed to be done to help the food supply chain.

“Just a couple of years ago, ranchers couldn’t get in. People couldn’t buy good beef,” he said. “Not only is it scary for the consumer, but can you imagine being a rancher and having 100 heads that you can’t get harvested somewhere? They are right fed out, and you have got to feed them another five or six months. I mean, those things impact those guys big time.”

Zack Jensen of M&K Farms in Sanpete County remembered those days. He said there was no way to get his beef to customers.

“In our area, we just have a few little custom plants, and they were backed up almost two years out on getting stuff done,” Jensen said. “We had people calling daily wondering if they could buy beef from us.”

Things have gotten better since then, but Jensen feels having a new, larger plant nearby will only help, especially locally.

“We always hate having to deal with people not in your area, but unfortunately, in Utah, that’s the best market is the outside market,” he said. “Having this new plant, it will be great. If you can go to the store and you can see it is raised in Utah and it is packaged in Utah, how much more perfect of a scenario for a buyer that lives in Utah?” 

Barlow is making his meat packing plant as modern as possible. A wastewater treatment facility was also built to save an estimated 8 million gallons of water annually.

“We live in a desert. That is important,” he said. 

Utah Beef Producers will also make biochar at the facility, which helps reduce methane gas in animals when used as a feed supplement. Biochar is the product of turning plant or animal waste into a charcoal-like product.

Utah Beef Producers

Henry Barlow said his new plant will save eight million gallons of water a year. (Mark Wetzel, KSL TV)

“We have been told that we will be the first plant in the United States to make biochar out of plant waste. So, we won’t be filling up the landfills,” Barlow said.

He is also teaming up with Snow College and Utah State University Extension to create educational opportunities for students who are interested in this as a career. Barlow expects the plant to create 100 jobs and process about 150 cattle daily when it opens.

He feels not only will it help Utah stay as independent as possible, but it will also help ranchers keep people fed. 

“Everything that I have done in my life up to now has been getting me ready for what I am doing right now,” Barlow said. “This is going to be good.”

The grand opening for the plant is March 30.

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‘We are going to feed American beef to the Americans’: Meat packing plant to open in Richfield