Media release from Hawaii County Office of the Mayor

The County of Hawai’i is breaking ground for $4.15 million worth of improvements to the State owned slaughterhouse in Pa’auilo. The event will take place at the slaughterhouse on October 16 at 10:00 a.m. Funds for the improvements were appropriated by the State Legislature and released by the Governor directly to the County of Hawaii to implement improvements that will help to secure the future of Hawaii Island’s grass-fed beef industry.

The proposed project will make much needed improvements in three critical areas:

  1. Waste water disposal
  2. Rendering of un-useable solid waste
  3. Improved refrigeration space to expand plant capacity and improve meat quality

When complete, the plant’s capacity will increase by 40% and reduce the current processing backlog that makes it difficult for ranchers to bring their animals to market in a timely fashion. Improvements will also transform waste that currently goes to the land fill into useable value-added and energy producing by-products. Improvements will also address outstanding waste water issues.

Once complete, the improvements will create new employment opportunities and increase the economic sustainability of the Hāmākua district.

Contracts for the work have been awarded to three separate contractors. Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. will be responsible for expanding refrigeration capacity and installing a new dry chill box to age grass fed beef before it is marketed. Ludwig Construction will install wastewater improvements including a new septic system and improvements to enable the recycling of wash water to irrigate surrounding pastures. Site Engineering will make repairs to the rendering plant and install equipment that turns inedible waste into compost material and animal fat for processing into biofuels.

The Pa’auilo Slaughterhouse is owned by the State of Hawai’i and leased to Hawai’i Beef Producers, a partnership between David DeLuz Sr. and a group of ranchers. It is one of two USDA certified slaughterhouses on Hawaii Island, where over 75% of all the state’s cattle are raised. Tim Richards, of Kahua Ranch and President of the Hawai’i Cattlemen’s Association, said “Slaughterhouse capacity is a critical bottleneck for local ranchers and an impediment to the growth of a locally grown and grass-fed beef industry in the state. These new improvements at Pa’auilo are an important step forward.”

“The County is glad to serve as a conduit for this important State investment in agricultural infrastructure”, said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Mahalo to the staff of Public Works, their consultants and the people at Hawai’i Beef Producers for their hard work to bring this unique effort to fruition.”

According to the County Food Self Sufficiency Baseline study, only about 17% of the beef eaten on Hawai’i Island is locally produced, in spite of the fact that the cattle industry produces nearly twice the number of cattle annually that the island consumes. Since the early 1990’s the cost of grain imports has made it too expensive for local ranchers to finish cattle locally. As a result, the bulk of the cattle industry ships young cattle to the mainland to be grown to market size and harvested there. Local slaughter capacity has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years and needs to be revitalized before a strong local grass fed industry can re-emerge.