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Colorado's Cattle Ranchers Fear For The Future As Meat Plant Closes

WIGGINS, Colo. (CBS4) - The impact of this week's closure of the JBS meat processing plant in Greeley has hit especially hard at a feedlot in Wiggins. The Magnum feed yard has 30,000 head of cattle set to be sent to slaughterhouses, and the animals don't just sit and wait. They eat, and that costs money.

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The feedlot has been run by Case Gabel and his family for 26 years. Now it faces a crisis.

"We've got to feed them every day. They need to be fed and watered. We check them for their health," he told CBS4's Rick Sallinger.

Magnum employs approximately 30 people, whose livelihoods are all dependent on getting the cattle to the slaughterhouse.

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"JBS has really made an effort to facilitate some cattle movement," Gabel said.

The animals in Wiggins are fine. It's many of the workers at the Greeley meat processing facility who have become ill and caused the assembly line there to shut down. The impact goes far beyond the feedlot. The ranchers who raise the cattle for now have a difficult time selling it.

Gabel believes it could possibly lead to a shortage.

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"I think going forward the meat supplies to the grocery stores are going to be tighter than people realize," he said.

As it stands now he is now taking a $300 loss on each of the 30,000 animals. If the JBS plant fails to gradually reopen by April 24 as planned, it could make an already difficult situation even worse for Colorado's beef industry.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

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