Posted on September 1, 2006

Will Nevada build its first grass-fed beef slaughterhouse?

State grant would pay for feasibility study

Spurred by the growing demand for grass-fed beef, local officials and ranchers in Churchill County, Nevada, want the state to explore building a new slaughterhouse to pump up supply.

The Churchill Economic Development Authority applied for $203,944 for a grant to cover the cost of a feasibility, demand and branding analysis for a slaughterhouse from the Nevada Economic Development Fund, according to the Lahontan Valley News.

"The demand is rapidly growing for grass-fed/grass-finished beef products because of consumers questioning how their food is grown," said Juliette Taylor, executive director for CEDA. "This is exploding into a multi-million dollar market. Based on increased consumer demand these four and five-star restaurants and hotels will pay premium prices for that kind of quality.”

There are no USDA certified slaughter and processing facilities in Nevada, said Taylor. Previously, there were 20 USDA certified abattoirs in northern California, now there are three.

"The only USDA inspected abattoir in the Bay Area, Ranch Feeding Corp., in Petaluma is slated to close within the next few years," said Bruce Cole, food columnist for Slaughterhouse High, in an article dated April 2006.

Nevada ranchers own 500,000 head of cattle, said Taylor. The study will determine which of those cattle are dairy cows and which are raised for beef. Taylor said there are a total of 689 beef slaughterhouses nationwide. However, there are none located in Nevada and this shows a regional need.

"There is a huge demand for grass-fed beef," she said. "This is a crisis, and provided the study agrees, Nevada has the ability to improve the market locally and nationally."

Taylor said the study should take approximately eight months. After the feasibility study is complete, branding and funding studies will be done.

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