CASPER, Wyo —Governor Mark Gordon sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on July 30, said he is concerned for the future of sheep producers in Wyoming and the western region of the country.
On July 30, Brazil-based JBS USA Holdings Inc. was set to acquire bankrupt Mountain State Rosen (MSR) lamb packing plant in Greeley, Colorado. Gordon said MSR was the nation’s second-largest lamb processing facility and had started as a family cooperative. He said now “they are trampled by a monolithic foreign corporation.”
“I question whether or not this is an antitrust issue,” Gordon wrote.
On July 30, Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Senator John Barrasso joined 9 other legislators from Utah, California, South Dakota, and Montana in sending a letter to Justice Department Antitrust Division Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Wednesday concerning the sale.
“We understand that JBS is not the first potential buyer to express interest in the MSR facility. An earlier interested buyer intended to continue operating MSR’s Greeley facility and even expand its capacity. However, it appears that after submitting a winning bid during bankruptcy proceedings, JBS is preparing to completely shut down all lamb processing at the site. It is our understanding that JBS intends to permanently destroy all of the lamb processing equipment as soon as this week.” Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), and Liz Cheney (R-WY), and Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mitt Romney (R-UT), John Thune (R-SD), Michael Rounds (R-SD)
“Our sheep industry is increasingly being taken over by foreign suppliers, from Brazil to China,” Gordon said in his letter to Perdue. “Wool, pelts, meat and labor are routinely outsourced. Today’s acquisition by JBS will impact sheep ranchers in at least 15 states who previously brought lambs to MSR.
Gordon said MSR represented one-fifth of America’s lamb market, and was a major outlet for Wyoming lamb. He said JBS is likely to import rather than use Wyoming lamb, which will impact ranchers in 15 states. Gordon said he hoped Perdue would agree that these blows to the industry “could not continue.”
“JBS has openly stated it will not process lambs at the facility in the future. The facility has the ability to process 800,000 lambs per year and has routinely processed over 300,000. Equally concerning is the loss of downstream infrastructure and fabrication ability, an issue that Wyoming and many other western states are trying to actively combat.” Governor Mark Gordon