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Cattle Packing Plant Projects Update
By Chris Clayton
Monday, January 23, 2023 10:49AM CST

OMAHA (DTN) -- A planned beef packing plant in western Iowa that would process as many as 2,000 head a day is moving closer to reality after a $150 million investment announced from a Florida firm.

The Iowa project is one of four separate cattle packing plant projects under construction or development stretching from Nebraska to Texas that add up to nearly $2.4 billion in investment. If all are built, they will add as much as 8,900 head per day of additional packing capacity to the cattle industry.

Cattlemen's Heritage Beef Co. has been working on the proposed packing plant since it was first announced in summer 2021. The packing plant will be built on the northern edge of Mills County, just south of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Cattlemen's Heritage had also announced earlier this month that the project had finalized purchasing the 132-acre site where the packing plant will be built.

On Monday, Chad Tentinger, principal developer for Cattlemen's Heritage, announced that Karis Capital out of Naples, Florida, is investing $150 million in the project. The investment will allow Cattlemen's Heritage to move forward with groundbreaking for the packing plant later this year.

"This $150 million strategic investment by Karis represents a critical milestone in the Cattlemen's Heritage plant," Tentinger said. "With this investment secure, we can break ground later this year. We will also be able to finalize bank financing and government incentives for a project that will provide high-quality, sustainable beef for consumers and significant economic benefits for the state of Iowa and for cattle producers."

Cattlemen's Heritage originally pegged its plant as costing $520 million and would employ as many as 800 people. The plant will have a strong strategic location just off north-south Interstate 29 in western Iowa and less than 10 miles from east-west Interstate 80.

Karis develops, builds and owns cold-storage facilities around the country, such as refrigerated warehouses, but Cattlemen's Heritage appears to be the company's first foray into the meatpacking industry.

Jake Finley, CEO of Karis, said in a news release the packing plant "represents a unique investment opportunity" for Karis to bring its expertise "to an industry in need of modernization."

"We see extraordinary consumer demand for low-carbon, high-quality beef that's produced in a sustainable way, and the Cattlemen's Heritage project does just that," Finley said. "It will have the latest in technology with a focus on sustainability along with the highest standards for plant employees and animal welfare. That's exactly what investors and consumers are looking for."

Cattlemen's Heritage also has brought in an algae-based wastewater treatment company, Gross-Wen Technologies, that will be used at the facility. The technology will capture and offset thousands of tons of carbon dioxide each year, the company stated. The nitrogen and phosphorus will then be converted into fertilizer "for re-use by area farmers as part of our goal to create a carbon-neutral footprint," Tentinger said.

SLEW OF PLANT PROJECTS

SUSTAINABLE BEEF: While Cattlemen's Heritage expects to break ground this year, nearly 300 miles west in North Platte, Nebraska, the 1,500-head-a-day Sustainable Beef LLC packing plant broke ground last October. Sustainable Beef drew significant attention last fall when it was announced that Walmart had signed an agreement for a minority stake in the project to help secure beef supplies for its stores.

AMERICAN FOODS GROUP: Near Foristell, Missouri, just on the western edge of the St. Louis metro area, Wisconsin-based American Foods Group (AFG) broke ground last fall on an $800 million packing plant that AFG expects will process 2,400 cattle a day. AFG expects its packing plant will be fully operational by the end of 2024.

PRODUCER OWNED BEEF: Also on the drawing table in Amarillo, Texas, is Producer Owned Beef, which was announced last August and had received incentive funds from the state of Texas and local economic development organizations around Amarillo. Producer Owned Beef seeks to process 3,000-plus head a day and employ 1,600 people.

USDA-FUNDED PROJECTS

In early November, USDA also announced $223 million in grants and loans to expand meat and poultry processing around the country. The funds were expected to increase beef and pork processing capacity by more than 500,000 head a year.

Among the biggest recipients of those funds was a $19.9 million grant to Greater Omaha Packing Co. as part of a $100 million expansion and technology upgrades at the facility

USDA is expected to announce another round of grants and loans for at least $225 million sometime in 2023 as well. A year ago, the Biden administration committed $1 billion to increase competition in the meatpacking industry.

So far, Cattlemen's Heritage, American Foods Group, Sustainable Beef and Producer Owned Beef have not been part of the funding announcements from USDA.

Also see "New Packing Plants Point to Long-Term Shifts for Cattle Business," https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


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