By Seth Romsa
Staff Writer 

Hyattville meat processing plant capacity doubles through grant

 

February 18, 2021

COURTESY/Paula Fauth

Paintrock Processing owner Tommy Searfoss poses in a processing room inside of the plant.

HYATTVILLE – When COVID-19 struck the nation in 2020, meat became a scarce product in most grocery stores across the country, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon began the Meat Processing Expansion Grant Program in April 2020 in order to help Wyoming meat processing plants expand their processes and this allowed additions to be made to the Paintrock Processing plant near Hyattville.

Paintrock Processing was originally founded by Lois Shirran and was operated by her for approximately 17 years until her son Tommy Searfoss purchased the business from his mother and began operating the plant.

According to rules stated by the meat processing grant, plants were awarded up to $500,000 in funding to expand capacity, reconfigure facilities to meet social distancing guidelines, costs associated with sanitation or testing supplies, additional wages or hazard pay attributed to COVID-19 along with other categories associated to help improve plant capacity.

These funds were awarded for renovations or costs implemented after April 1, and must have been operational prior to Dec. 30, 2020. These items may not be resold or moved out of state prior to Jan. 1, 2022.

"We put in a new [18-foot by 24-foot] cooler, smokehouse, smoker, band saw and patty machine," Searfoss said.

Searfoss said that they actually had very little time to get the equipment in and running, with 60 days to implement the equipment and get everything running before the grant deadline.

"It expanded my business, I went from two employees to six," Searfoss said. "It is a wonderful deal we put through about 60 to 80 beef a month and we were doing about 20 to 30 before; we more than doubled our productivity here."

With these improvements Paintrock Processing is now able to offer different meat packages for those who are unable to afford a whole cow or half a cow. These packages also allow the plant to make other items such as jerky or beef sticks.

These processing upgrades went along with Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon's Wyoming Hunger Initiative program that was implemented during COVID-19 called Food from the Field. This program helps hunters along with processors to donate wild game meat with a small fee to food pantries statewide in a safe manner.


As a result of the processing upgrades to Paintrock Processing, Searfoss was invited down to Cheyenne to meet with the governor and first lady to discuss the Food from the Field program. Searfoss said that the governor and first lady were great people to work with as the first lady was able to work directly with Searfoss to help implement the Food from the Field program at the processing plant.


"Everybody is thinking now they want local beef and want to know where their beef comes from and we are happy to provide that service for them," Searfoss said. "Anyone in the state of Wyoming is more than welcome to come to my plant and see how their beef gets cut up and explore that side of things."

With the plant being so busy they have been able to purchase a side of beef as Paintrock Processing and donate a side every six months to a foodbank.

Searfoss said that he believes that the plant will continue to grow and potentially double in size in the next two years as long as people continue to believe in purchasing local beef. The plant is currently booked out through May and if things continue along that path he can definitely see the plant continue to expand.

"I would like to see people come here and learn what is better about local grown beef compared to what you can buy at the store," Searfoss said.

 
 

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