Ag Policy Blog

Midwest Towns Reject Proposed Packing Plants

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Nebraska and Iowa pride themselves on their agricultural production and the protein they produce for the average American's plate.

Along with cornfields come livestock. And along with livestock comes packing plants, the jobs and the economic development they create. But plans for new processing plants proposed for each state have hit some complications in recent weeks.

Nebraska media over the past month have been reporting on plants for a possible chicken-processing plant near Fremont, Neb., about 40 miles west of Omaha. The $300 million facility would process chickens for mega-retailer Costco and could create roughly 1,100 jobs. The facility would be run by Georgia-based Crider Poultry. Given that the operation would have capacity to process up to 350,000 birds a day, it would change the agricultural landscape in the region by increasing broiler production dramatically in Nebraska and possibly western Iowa for more broiler production. Broiler production is low enough that USDA's ag statistics service doesn’t include broiler production from each state in its reports.

But the poultry plant ran into some problems last month. The city council in one small town declined to approve a zoning change and opposition continues around Fremont despite a push from local economic development officials and state leaders.…

The same kind of battle is playing out in Iowa over a proposed pork plant. Prestage Farms, a North Carolina-based pork producer with operations in Iowa, announced plans in March to build a $240 million plant near Mason City, Iowa, that would employ as many as 1,800 people and process up to 10,000 hogs a day. The facility is considered part of a drive to add some packing capacity to the pork industry. Another competing firm is building a new pork facility near Sioux City, Iowa, as well.

But the Des Moines Register reports that the Mason City Council, which had voted unanimously in March to support the Prestage facility, reversed itself and gridlocked in a 3-3 vote that defeated a development deal for the pork plant. The facility also drew fierce local resistance despite support from local business leaders and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. He had praised the project when it was first announced in March.…

Opposition in both Nebraska and Iowa was due to both environmental concerns and fears about an influx of immigrant workers. Both Costco and Prestage Farms told local press they are weighing options on other possible locations for their plants.

"Maybe it's just an issue of the times in which we live in which so many people want certain things but they don't want the inconveniences that go with them," said Chris Young, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors, told Associated Press.…

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5/8/2016 | 7:32 AM CDT
Typical of what someone penned, NIMBY'S, in America today. " Not In My Back Yard" , bet demand the best of everything.