The XL Foods facility in Alberta will reopen Monday, Bill Rupp, president and CEO of JBS USA's North America and Australia beef business said Thursday during a press briefing in Brooks, Alberta.
“It’s a good, clean facility. We just need to operate it,” Rupp told reporters. “I don’t think it needs [any improvements] before it operates. I think this plant is capable of producing food-safe product.”
He did acknowledge, though, that production would not resume at full capacity until the company is satisfied with its food safety audits.
On Tuesday the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) restored the license to resume processing operations at the XL Foods Inc. plant in Brooks, Alberta, less than one week after JBS USA took over management of the idled facility.
“We don’t see any big deal breakers out there,” Rupp said of the JBS proposal to manage and possibly acquire the facilities operated by XL Foods.
“We understand their quality of doing business,” said Chuck MacLean, chairman of Canada Beef Inc., which co-hosted the conference with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.
“Our process goes above and beyond [what the government requires] to ensure food safety,” Rupp said, adding that company representatives have been in Alberta for a week.
“We have not found any shortcomings with the facility.”
Under the agreement, JBS USA in Canada will manage the XL Lakeside beef processing plant, which has a total capacity to process 4,000 head of cattle per day. XL will continue to oversee operations at its U.S. facilities during the option period. XL Foods also announced it would give JBS USA the option to buy those facilities and XL’s U.S. operations.
But the Ranchers-Cattlemen’s Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) is now pressing for a federal investigation of plans by the Greeley, Colo.-based subsidiary of Brazilian giant JBS SA to take over slaughter plants from XL Foods in both Canada and the United States (one in Nebraska and one in Idaho).
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard is requesting information whether JBS USA “has officially notified the Justice Department” of its intent to purchase two American facilities.
“To the extent that JBS USA and the other dominant beef packers in the U.S. claim that the U.S. cattle and beef industry and the Canadian cattle and beef industry operate in an integrated, North American market, it would be important to determine the potential effect on the U.S. cattle market should JBS USA acquire a dominant market position in Canada and further increase its dominant market position in the United States,” Bullard wrote in an Oct. 24 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and USDA Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration head Larry Mitchell.
Bullard wrote that “the proposed acquisition of the two U.S. beef packing plants by JBS USA would increase its daily U.S. capacity to over 26,000 head of cattle per day, which would rival, if not exceed, the individual packing capacities of Tyson and Cargill - presently the first and second largest U.S. beef packers, respectively.”
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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