Marin Sun Farms has obtained federal approval to take over the Rancho Feeding Corp. slaughterhouse in Petaluma and plans to reopen the shuttered facility early next month.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday that it has certified Marin Sun to operate the Petaluma plant, which closed Feb. 9 amid an international recall of all beef processed at Rancho in 2013.
The news, which was met with strong approval by local ranchers and farm officials, will allow the North Bay's sole slaughterhouse to reopen under new ownership while federal investigators continue to examine allegations that Rancho processed "diseased and unsound animals."
Rancho Feeding Corp.
"I want to get this facility back to full operations so that consumers can enjoy a growing number of options from local producers in the marketplace," Marin Sun founder and CEO David Evans said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Marin Sun will reopen the plant on April 7, the company announced on its Facebook page. Company officials will hold a news conference Friday at the Petaluma Boulevard North facility to discuss more details.
By taking over the plant, Marin Sun intends to offer a range of services to local ranchers, including slaughter, cut-and-wrap and distribution.
In February, Rancho recalled all 8.7 million pounds of beef processed at the facility in 2013. The company has been accused of circumventing inspection rules and is being investigated by the USDA, the agency's inspector general and the U.S. Attorney General's Office.
Robert Singleton, one of Rancho's owners, has denied that animals were ever slaughtered without inspectors present. There have been no confirmed reports of illness linked to the recall.
Evans, a fourth-generation rancher, assembled a group of investors to buy the Petaluma slaughterhouse. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Evans said the facility cost "several million dollars." The deal closed Feb. 28.