Almost a year after closing doors on its Brawley, Calif., beef slaughter and processing plant, National Beef Packing Co. announced April 14 that the plant has been purchased by One World Beef (OWB), a global meat company based in Buena Park, Calif.

With plans to hit the ground running, OWB is aiming at having the Brawley facility in full operation by the fourth quarter of 2015. The reopening of the plant is greatly welcomed by the community, where 1,300 workers were once employed before the plant closed.

“Currently, we are in the due diligence period, which includes a thorough analysis of costs, impacts and assessment of what will be needed to get the operation up and running,” says OWB. “The due diligence period will be complete by mid-June, and we are aiming to re-open the facility in the fourth quarter of 2015.”

Located in the heart of a prominent cattle feeding region, area feedyards also felt the pressure when National Beef shutdown the 1,900 head per day capacity plant, forcing some feeders across state lines.

In a formal statement by National Beef announcing the closing of the Brawley facility in January 2014, the closure was attributed to tight cattle supplies. This stemmed from a small national cow herd, fueled by drought.

“A declining supply of fed cattle available for the Brawley facility was a key driver of the decision to close the plant,” says Tim Klein, chief executive officer, National Beef, in the statement.  

While rains have yet to quench California’s thirst, the cattle feeding industry has remained relevant, however has cited a significant drop of numbers in the past year.

According to the USDA’s February 2015 Cattle on Feed report, California went from 520,000 head on feed in February 2014, to 425,000 head on feed by January 2015. While most of the top 12 cattle feeding states held steady, California’s 95,000 head drop was by far the most significant in the country.

The decrease in numbers has also been partially attributed to difficulty in finding adequate slaughter and processing capacities that came along with the closing of the Brawley facility.

As area cattle feeders and communities embrace the new beginning in Brawley, so has OWB.

“We have a long history of leadership and serving as a partner in the region’s cattle feeding and beef processing industries. My family was involved in the original development of the Brawley facility and we supplied cattle to the facility since it opened in 2001,” said Eric Brandt, president, One World Beef.  “We look forward to deepening our partnership with the community by creating jobs and opportunities for local, independent ranchers to process and market their products.”