Fire Incident at National Beef Facility in Liberal, Kansas: Market Impact and Industry Response

March 22, 2024

At 9:50 p.m. on March 20, a truck parked in the loading dock of the National Beef facility in Liberal, Kansas, ignited, subsequently spreading to adjacent trailers and a portion of the loading dock, as per the company's statement. The statement further noted that the facility was operational at the time of the incident and was evacuated promptly for the safety of all personnel on-site. Emergency services effectively extinguished the fire within a few hours, with no reported injuries.

Following the fire, production at the Liberal facility was halted. The company declared its intention to recommence operations on March 25, pending investigations into the cause, damage assessment, and necessary preparations for resumption. The plant, boasting a daily capacity to harvest 6,000 head of fed beef, temporarily ceased operations due to the incident.

Expressing appreciation, National Beef acknowledged the swift response and assistance rendered by the Liberal Fire Department, Liberal Police Department, and other emergency services.


Recollections of the 2019 fire at Tyson Fresh Meats in Holcomb, Kansas, which led to a prolonged shutdown of the beef plant and a subsequent decline in market prices, stirred apprehension within the beef industry.

DTN's Livestock Market Analyst, ShayLe Stewart, commented, "The fire at National Beef's processing plant in Liberal, Kansas, primarily affected their reefer (refrigerated) unit and is not anticipated to significantly disrupt production. However, the announcement of a packing plant fire did prompt a downturn in live cattle contracts during Thursday's trade, evoking memories of the 2019 Holcomb plant fire."

The Holcomb plant fire on August 9, 2019, resulted in price declines. Subsequently, it prompted a Department of Justice investigation and spurred extensive discussions on cattle market transparency among various organizations and government entities.

Source: DTN, Western Ag Network