Oregon Beef Packer Closes After 120 Years

More than 140 employees have lost their jobs in Oregon after a 120-year old beef packer closes. ( Bartels Farms )

A beef packing plant in Oregon specializing in grass fed and organic beef has shut its doors after 120 years of business.

Bartels Packing closed their family-owned plants near Eugene on March 14. Two days later employees received a letter from president Chris Bartels saying they were no longer employed.

“As you may know, the recent performance of the company has been disappointing,” Bartels wrote. “We have experienced significant difficulties over the past several months which have caused our business to falter including, among other things, a continuing decline in sales, accumulation of finished goods inventory, the recent and unexpected loss of one of our largest customers, the coming due of our line of credit and a shortage of sufficient working capital necessary to operate as a viable business.”

Bartels Packing employed 142 people through separate harvest and packing facilities. The Bartels had attempted to sell the company prior to closing.

“We regret that under the circumstances we were not able to provide you with advanced notice of the closings,” Bartels’ letter read. “We believed that giving an earlier notice would have jeopardized our ongoing efforts and precluded us from obtaining new business and finding new financing, as well as our efforts to negotiate and close the sale.”

The packing plant offered branded beef products under the Bartels Farms label. Products included grass fed natural beef and USDA certified organic beef.

According to the Bartels Farms website the family had been in the meat packing business in Oregon since 1908.

In recent history Bartels Packing had been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture forcing a temporary plant shut down in 2016 for several weeks. The investigation found that cattle had been inhumanely treated when they cattle were improperly stunned with a captive bolt gun prior to slaughter.

Prior to the USDA investigation there were also fines imposed on Bartels Packing by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in July 2013 for $15,000 after wastewater discharged into a ditch flowing towards nearby wetlands.