BRAWLEY, Calif. – The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors have both taken formal steps to support One World Beef, LLC, as it seeks to reopen the beef-processing plant and at the same time create hundreds of new local jobs.
Closed in April 2014 by Kansas City-based National Beef, the move was a dramatic blow to the region as 1,300 people lost jobs, and the local agricultural economy was affected as cattle producers sought other means of getting their product to market.
This spring, One World Beef announced its plans to purchase the plant. They have been working closely with IID and Imperial County to achieve this goal, and hope to soon reopen the beef processing plant where 250 or more jobs are expected to be created.
IID offers grant, reduced electric rate, incentives
During a special June 4 meeting, the IID Board of Directors approved making a $2.5 million grant to One World Beef from its Local Entity competitive mitigation funds. There would be no cost to IID ratepayers.
The district has also offered the plant a reduced electric rate of 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for 10 years. This is consistent with the incentivized rate IID offered to retain National Beef when it announced its closure early last year.
Further, through IID’s Public Benefit Program, the plant could potentially benefit from $1.3 million in efficiency or renewable energy measures. This is funding that IID would offer any other commercial customers.
“Since the district was approached by One World Beef earlier this year, IID’s finance, legal and energy staff members have been working to develop a package of incentives consistent with our attempt to keep the plant and the jobs it creates local,” said IID Board President Stephen Benson.
Imperial County offers $2.5 million low-interest financing
At a special meeting of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on June 10, the Board approved a partially-forgivable, low-interest loan in the amount of $2.5 million to One World Beef, funded from the county’s Public Benefit Program. This program was created to help offset the impacts to the valley’s agricultural economy due to the temporary use of farmland for solar projects. The Board’s action followed the review and recommendation of One World Beef’s application by the Agricultural Benefit Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from the farm community and chaired by Connie Valenzuela, county agricultural commissioner.
In addition to the direct jobs at the Brawley plant, the proposal is likely to support renewed activity in the cattle-feeding industry throughout the valley. Steve Snow, manager of Phillips Cattle Co., commented, “It would be great to be able to process our livestock locally rather than shipping them out with the added costs that creates. If we can increase the cattle on feed here, we can hopefully re-hire some of our workers who were unfortunately laid off when National Beef closed last year.”
Board Chairman Ryan Kelley said the county is “very excited to partner with IID and One World Beef in the effort to re-open this facility. The job creation potential is certainly there, and we wanted to help make this happen.”