The last time Dick Maxfield toured what is now the JBS Beef Plant in Greeley, John F. Kennedy was president, the world’s population was less than half of what it is now and the Civil Rights Act had yet to be signed into law.
While a few things have changed on the outside world since the early 1960s, so too have operations inside the local beef-processing plant.
“It’s really become an incredible facility,” Maxfield said Friday, pointing out that the plant — which has changed ownership multiple times in the last 50 years — has grown greatly in size, and the technology, efficiency, food-safety measures and number of cattle processed at the plant is quite different compared to the last time he was inside. “The plant is such a huge part of life here in Greeley ... so it was great that (JBS) shared this with us.”
Maxfield was one of more than 50 residents who took part in the Greeley Chamber of Commerce Annual Ag Tour and got a rare look inside the massive 8th Avenue operation, which stands as one of the largest beef plants in the world. The plant processes more than 5,000 cattle daily, employs thousands of local residents and for decades has had a huge economic impact on the region.
For many long-time Weld County residents, Friday marked their first time to go inside operations at the facility, where they witnessed how the carcasses are dismantled.
“It’s so efficient ... nothing wasted,” said Mike Freeman, the owner of J-9 Crop Insurance in Ault, who said he’s toured other packing plants in the area, but had never seen the inside of JBS’s large-scale operation. “It was very interesting to see.”
Tony Miller, senior vice president at First Farm Bank in Greeley and member of the Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee, said allowing local residents to see first-hand the operations that make Weld County a world leader in ag production is the purpose of the Chamber’s annual ag tours.
Much of the tour focused on food safety.
In addition to the JBS Beef Plant, tour stops included Aurora Organic Dairy’s plant near Platteville, where about 100,000 gallons of milk are processed daily, and Hungenberg Produce north of Greeley, which is one of the largest producers of carrots in the nation.
The tour also included presentations from Dale Woerner, an assistant professor of animal science at Colorado State University; Dawn Thilmany, agriculture economist with CSU; Lori Trahan, food safety director with Fagerberg Produce near Eaton, Bill Hammerich with the Colorado Livestock Association and Cindy Haren with Western Dairy Association.
“We really want to educate the general public on the fantastic leaders in production and food safety that we have right here in our area,” Miller said. “Big credit to JBS, as well as the other facilities we visited today, for doing things the right way, and not being afraid to show it to the public.”
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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