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Moo-ve over competition: There's a new beef packing plant in Camanche

The Naeve family is taking its cattle raising to the next level, opening a beef processing plant so they can package and sell their own meat.

CAMANCHE, Iowa — A new family-owned beef processing plant is opening in Camanche. The Naeve family, a six-generation farm family, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, March 5 for Naeve Family Beef.

The Naeves raise cattle and grow crops, with three generations currently running the family farm, including Allan Naeve, his son Ray, and his grandsons Andrew and Adam. They wanted to expand their business and sell their own beef, Andrew, who also serves as President of Naeve Family Beef, explained.

"We've always wanted to have our own brand to be able to sell to our friends and neighbors," Andrew said. "And that's been a challenge to do for producers for a long time, because of the way the industry is made up. And we were afraid to look into it."

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Two years ago, Ray said, they finally started to make plans for the processing plant, breaking ground last June.

"It's exciting," Ray said. "We wanted to give the community a chance at what we think is a better product than they may be used to. And develop Naeve Family Beef as a branded product, I think was the goal behind this."

"For a long time, consumers have been moving towards wanting to know where and how their food is raised," Andrew said. "And I think we can meet that need and tell people exactly how the animals are raised and how we're making (the beef)."

The plant will be able to process 60 heads of cattle a day, coming from both the Naeve family farm or from other area farmers.

It will also have a retail shop on site for people to buy meat products from. However, Andrew said they don't just want to sell their products. He wants this to be an investment in the community.

"We'll have a couple meat cases and stuff, but we hope to partner with other local businesses to sell their products," he said. "There's a great bakery here in town that we'd love to sell their stuff. There's another meat processor family, not too far away, that makes great brats, sausages, meat sticks, and we'd love to work with them and sell stuff back and forth."

"It's Naeve Family Beef, but it really is almost a community project," Ray said.

As a small, local, family-owned plant, Andrew said it will be hard to compete with the larger ones. Naeve Family Beef hopes to sell as much to the community as possible, before working its way into more regional and metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines and St. Louis.

"Where we'll challenge and struggle to compete with big packers is that they can just do it for so cheap from years of consolidation and improving processes," Andrew said. "We won't be able to do that. But what they don't have that we have is the family and the story, and our six generations of work in it."

Family, friends and community members were invited to the processing plant's ribbon cutting on Saturday and given a chance to tour the facility. There's still some construction that has to wrap up before it's fully operational. The USDA will then walk through and sign off on the plant, Andrew said. From there, Naeve Family Beef will be given a temporary grant of inspection, where it will process for about three months and then pass an audit to get its full grant of inspection.

Andrew said he hopes to have the retail shop open by the summer.

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