3,000-head feedlot planned for Tucumcari

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Two area ranchers are proposing to develop a feedyard in Tucumcari near the new landfill off of Highway 54.

Tony Gable of Conchas Dam and Mark Whetten of Newkirk made a short presentation about their proposal at Monday evening’s regular meeting of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp.

Gable and Whetten are seeking 200 acres and a special use water rate from the City of Tucumcari for the feedyard, which would have 3,000 head of cattle.

“It’s a good project for the location,” said Gable.

Gable said they are developing a turnkey operation which would include purchasing grain byproducts from the Route 66 Ethanol plant on Rock Island and shipping the cattle to Kansas.

The location is ideal, said Gable, because it’s extremely close to the ethanol plant and the major transportation route, Highway 54, and the beef cattle people they are working with in Kansas, see a need in this area.

The feedyard would be for pre-conditioning and/or a grow yard.

It would employ between 15 and 20 people when its operational.

The project would be viable financially, with or without feed byproducts from the ethanol plant or if there was a downturn in the local economy, according to their proposal.

“Water is critical” to the project, said Gable. Based on a rate of 12 gallons per day for each head of cattle, the operation would need 36,000 gallons per day, he said.

In comparison to the feedlot operation on I-40 in Wildorado, Texas, Gable said there were about 36,000 head of cattle in Wildorado versus a planned 3,000 in Tucumcari.

He also said any odors from the operation would probably blow with the prevailing southwest winds.

“My department is very supportive of this project,” said Judy Stubbs, area representative for Region 6 of the state’s Department of Economic Development, who attended the meeting. With its headquarters in Roswell, Region 6 consists of Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Eddy, Lea, Quay and Roosevelt counties.

Stubbs said the beef market, from feedlots to slaughterhouses, was an untapped market right now.

At the GTEDC’s open meeting board members took no action on the feedlot proposal.

After the GTEDC board’s closed session, interim director of the GTEDC, Franklin McCasland said the board also took no action on the proposal.

“We directed the new GTEDC director to work with the city on the land and water issues,” McCasland said.

In the early 2000s, the site was being proposed as a dairy and, at this time, it is not certain if the land is permitted or not. And based on new regulations, the land may now have to be permitted under new guidelines for federal regulation called CAFO or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, McCasland said.

It’s possible the proposal could be discussed at the city’s next commission meeting on May 24, McCasland said.

Land being sought for the project could be transferred from the city to the GTEDC and then offered as an incentive to Gable and Whetten for the feedlot, McCasland said.

The GTEDC, among other things provides incentives for projects that provide employment in Quay County.
In other business before the GTEDC:

• Approved the hiring of Patrick Vanderpool as its executive director, replacing Pete Kampfer, who left in February.

• It was agreed that two lots requested by Mesalands Community College be given to the college with the proviso that construction began within three years of their ownership. The college plans to use the two lots as part of its new Building Trades program and will be a homes to sell. The lots are near the Tucumcari Public School Administration building and Washington Street.

• Approved a contract between the city of Tucumcari and the GTEDC to provide as the economic development services for $83,000 per year. The GTEDC had proposed it provide its services for $100,000 year.
“It’s tough, but we will have to make it work,” McCasland said.