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Rancher seeks to buy shuttered slaughterhouse (w/video)

Robert Singleton, who owns the Petaluma plant and operates sister company Rancho Veal, on Thursday confirmed efforts to reach an agreement.

"It's in the works," Singleton said. "Nothing completed, but it's in the works."

Rancho Feeding, operated by Singleton's partner Jesse "Babe" Amaral, initiated a recall last month that has spread beyond local markets and custom-beef ranchers to national chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Food 4 Less.

Rancho Feeding Corp.

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More than 1,600 food distributors in the United States and Canada are now named as part of the recall, asking consumers to return such products as beef jerky, taquitos, hamburger patties and Hot Pockets frozen sandwiches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has asserted that Rancho "processed diseased animals" without a full inspection. Two different USDA offices are conducting investigations of the company.

The USDA has not received any reports of illness linked to the meat.

Marin Sun operates ranches near Inverness, butcher shops in Oakland and Point Reyes Station and a meat-cutting plant in San Francisco. Evans recently was named Outstanding North Bay Rancher for the upcoming Sonoma County Fair.

Local farm leaders, who long feared they might lose the region's last slaughterhouse, on Thursday applauded news of Evans' plan to buy the plant and broaden its operations.

"This is really like a dream come true," said Tim Tesconi, executive director at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. "The whole livestock industry has been looking for this for 20 years."

Rancho is a small processor of older dairy cows and pasture-fed beef, the latter a growing niche that commands a premium price at high-end restaurants, butcher shops and farmers markets. In the last year or so, the plant has expanded to processing hogs.


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