Midwest Meats

The Leith family, from left,  Bryan, Morgan, Leroy and Mackenzie are hoping to have the meatpacking plant up and running by next fall.

Beef: It’s what for dinner.

An Abilene family has plans to make that phrase more popular in Abilene for both the producer and the consumer.

Midwest Meats, to be run by the Leith family, have more than just a drawing board of plans for a meatpacking plant in northwest Abilene.

“We have our building designed,” said Troy Leith. 

The next step is to take it to the Abilene Planning Commission, requesting a conditional use permit for a meat locker on land the city of Abilene owns east of Russell Stover.

Midwest Meats is intended to be a “craft butcher shop and custom processing facility serving the Dickinson County area.” 

The butcher shop will accept cattle to be processed but cattle won’t be housed at the location. Also planned is a retail store which will sell beef, cut the way the customer wants.

Just to clear up a few misconceptions, in this modern day butcher shop:

• All livestock will be received and housed inside at all times to help keep them comfortable and out of sight of neighbors;

• All trimmings and by-products generated from processing will be kept inside a separate cooler until they are picked up to ensure there are no unpleasant odors coming from the plant;

• A detailed plan for wastewater and sewage will be in compliance with all disposal requirements for the processing floor.

Bryan and Leroy Leith both have extensive experience in the meat packing industry. They, along with sister Morgan and Leroy’s wife Mackenzie, want to start a new business in Abilene.

Troy Leith with Leith Enterprises has offered to purchase lot 1, 3 acres, for $18,000, $6,000 per acre. The offer was accepted by the city commission and includes a one year option on lot 2 which is 4.9 acres.

The family hopes to have the facility ready to go next fall.

“It was inspired by our collective experience,” Brian said. “Leroy and I have experience in the meat industry.”

They have spent 15 years working in the beef industry.

Midwest Meats will also age the meat, something that isn’t done at the major meat packing plants in Western Kansas.

“In those big processing plants, like IBP, they won’t let it age,” Brian.

 

 Beef shortage

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the meat packing plants and the price of beef skyrocketed, the Leith family decided it was time to open a locker in Abilene.

“It’s not a good idea to be dependent on a just a couple of great big plants,” Troy said. “You look back not very many years how many small processing plants there were and they are gone.”

“I think what we are seeing is people realize that and the resurgence of the community processing plant is really on the rise,” Troy said. “The local producers have got to have a local place to get that animal processed so they can sell it for the premium. The local buyer can buy that protein animal and know exactly where it came from.

“I know where it came from, I know how it was raised, and I know exactly what I will get because I trust the whole process from the producer to the processing into my freezer,” Troy said. 

“One of the big trends in the food industry is traceability,” said Morgan. “Knowing where you are getting the protein from. Even the large companies are putting out their sources and their ingredients where they are coming from.”

Midwest Meats is founded on the principle of farm to family, Troy said.

“We believe that our local producers raise some of the best meat in the world and we want to bring them to your family,” he said. “We are here to be your trusted custom processor that connects the local producer to the family and provides you with the cuts of meat that best fit your lifestyle.”

 

Family

“Going back to the community based business whether it is a packing plant or another ag compliment business, we are an ag community,” Troy said. “We are very excited to be a part of this awesome community that we love.  We don’t ever intend to be a large-scale slaughterhouse. This is not our vision. We are a small craft butcher shop and custom processing center here to serve our local community. 

“We have some young folks here with some great experience and a real passion for it,” he added.  “I think it is as important to the local producers as it is to the local consumers to connect those two together, for the traceability, for the quality of meat.  There are not better livestock producers in the world than we have right here in Dickinson County. There is no better opportunity to buy better meat.”

Currently, beef can be processed at the lockers in Clay Center and Herington.

A retail store is being planned called a craft butcher room.

“This is for the guy who comes in and says, ‘I would like the ribeye but I would like the cowboy cut and I want it two inches thick instead of an inch and three quarters,’” Troy said.

“Imagine walking to the place where you are treated with a big smile and you want a thick New York strip,” Bryan said.

The steaks are cut and the consumer is immediately asked if that is what they wanted, Bryan said. 

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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