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Vilsack visits Mills County beef plant site

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack (right) speaks with members of the media at the site of a proposed $325 million beef processing plant in Mills County, Iowa on 7-9-2021. Pictured left is Chad Tentinger of TenCorp, Inc. (Photo by Brent Barnett)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stopped in Mills County on Friday to visit the site where a $325 million beef processing facility is set to be constructed.

Cattlemen’s Heritage – a newly formed corporation – recently announced plans to construct a 1,500-head-per-day beef plant north of Glenwood in the northwest quadrant of Interstate 29 and Bunge Avenue. Company officials say the facility will employ up to 750 workers and have an estimated annual impact of $1.1 billion.

Vilsack says the new beef processing facility is needed to keep up with demand, and to help create competition for the “Big Four” meat packing plants.

“Men and women in the cattle industry work hard every single day to produce a quality product,” said Vilsack. “The reality is that when they go to a handful of processing facilities, they end up being short changed. They end up losing money on the cattle that they provide to the processing facility, while the processing facility itself is making money. The result of that is that we have fewer and fewer of these independent cattle men and women in the business. As I have indicated, the goal of this USDA under President Biden’s leadership is more new and better markets.”

Vilsack lauded the economic impact of the beef plant by saying it will create a large number of new jobs for the local market.

“Communities like those in Mills County and in southwest Iowa are desperately in need of good paying jobs to be able to retain and attract young people,” said Vilsack. “The beauty of this site is that it is well-positioned. It’s well-positioned from a workforce development possibility, it’s well-positioned from a zoning possibility, and obviously there is a great demand.”

The new Cattlemen’s Heritage facility will have an average annual wage of $55,000 plus benefits.

Company officials expect to break ground on the new plant in the spring of 2022 with intentions to be open and running in the winter of 2023. The facility is expected to be operating at full capacity by the end of 2024.