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Wolf Pack Meats, the only USDA-certified meat processing facility in the region, will temporarily cease operations effective October 31, 2022.
According to Shauna Lemieux, director of marketing at the United Nations School of Agriculture, the shutdown is occurring due to financial instability, and the university will try to secure an outside vendor to take over the production.
Lemieux stated that the facility will reopen in early 2023.
“The temporary closure will allow maintenance of the facility,” Lemieux said. “These facility improvements combined with a new production process vendor will allow Wolf Pack Meats to reopen as a more robust facility that is better able to meet the needs of the Nevada cattle ranching community, increasing production capacity and delivery time.”
However, a source, who asked not to be named, stated that the news was not welcome for some Wolf Pack Meats employees who were rumored to have left the processing hall when news came of the shutdown on September 9.
However, when asked if the employees had resigned en masse, Wolf Pack Meats stated that they would not be commenting.
“On Friday, Wolf Pack Meats employees were informed of the timetable for the temporary closure,” Lemieux said. “Other than that, we cannot comment on confidential personnel matters.”
Regardless of personnel issues, Lemieux reiterated that production is still planned to continue through October 31.
The university is required as a land grant university to teach practical agriculture. Wolf Pack Meats has been a working and teaching facility since the mid-1960s, and in recent years, it has become the only USDA facility in the area.
Carson has now reached out to Carson Valley Meats, a local ranching company that relies on Wolf Pack Meats for its processing.
“The sudden closure of Wolf Pack Meats has created a massive void in the northern Nevada food chain,” said Karen Sinclair, owner of Carson Valley Meats. “It is the last full-time USDA processing facility in the northern half of the state, and the only plant trusted to process more than just beef. Many ranchers will be affected, along with the Carson Valley Meats.”
Sinclair stated that the only alternative would be for the cattle to be shipped to California to be processed, and if they were to be sold in Nevada, they had to be shipped back.
“The economic and environmental impact on our state is immeasurable, and the additional pressure it is placing on our local food chain and regional producers is putting negative consequences on Nevada’s ability to sustain itself,” Sinclair said. “Nevada will become more dependent on food than states like California.”
Sinclair said the shutdown will not just be limited to farm owners, but students who participate in 4-H, FFA, The Grange and other farming-based educational programs will be denied the opportunity to breed and care for the market. and sell livestock.
“Wolf Pack Meats are the main handler for the Nevada Junior Livestock Show and others in the region,” said Sinclair. “This may irreparably harm Nevada culture and farming heritage for future generations of Nevada families.”
Carson Valley Meats unsuccessfully attempted to set up an alternative USDA processing facility, first in Douglas County and then again in Carson City, to no avail. Sinclair says that had it been approved, the news of the Wolf Pack Meats closure wouldn’t have been so devastating.
“The refusal of our proposed processing facility, first in Douglas County, and second in Carson City, was short-sighted and harmed our state’s rural heritage by placing all responsibility for processing Nevada’s major agricultural crops — livestock — on a single facility, which will now be closed,” he said. Sinclair. “We welcome the opportunity to reopen discussions on the topic of opening a regional processing facility with local governments who have the foresight to ensure their residents have access to fresh, locally sourced proteins.”