Cargill submits expansion proposal to Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif.

Under a tentative proposal the plant at Fig Avenue and North would add 80,000 square feet and require 300 more workers. 1,000 already work at the plant. But while it sounds promising, the expansion is far from certain.

The Cargill plant in Fresno slaughters nearly 2,000 cows a day, producing 1.4 million pounds of beef. It's located just outside the Fresno city limits, and Alice Grants neighborhood.

"At times the smell is really awful," said Alice. "You know, 24 hours. And sometimes when the wind blows that stink come out like it's sitting right next to you."

Alice has lived here for more than 60 years and says the odor is not bad all the time, and better than it was ten years ago.

According to Fresno County, nobody has officially complained about the smell for three years. That's one reason the county is giving a tentative green light on the company's proposal to expand the plant, adding perhaps 300 jobs.

County supervisor Phil Larson supports the expansion because of its positive impact on the economy.

"I think it's a great deal. Great idea," said Larson. "They've been talking about it for a couple of years and now it's coming to fruition."

However, just because the company has filed the proposal to expand, doesn't mean it will happen. In an email company spokesman Michael Martin said: "It's a proposal for some options we are considering. It has not been approved by the county and it is premature to say that it is moving forward. There are numerous factors that carry weight in our decisions to move forward with any investment at existing facilities including overall market conditions, customer needs, costs, etc. While we are exploring possibilities, at this point in time nothing is finalized."

The big part of the expansion would be hide processing. But, in another e-mail Martin emphasized the tentative nature of the proposal. "There is no guarantee of 300 additional jobs, as there is no decision about moving hide processing to the plant property."

If it doesn't happen, that would be just fine with Alice Grant. She told Action News, "The plant is big enough."

The company's proposal will be presented to the Fresno County Planning Commission on May 22nd.

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