Vilsack says owner-operated small meat processors are good for industry

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says adding regional processing facilities will not only add competition to the industry, but it will boost local ag economies.

He says owner-operated facilities would help fix the price imbalance but companies face high start-up costs when trying to get plants online. “Cattlemen’s Heritage would appreciate to qualify for a grant that would reduce their capital input and make it a little easier for them to get to that day when they break ground,” Vilsack says. “I think they would probably benefit from going to their lender saying ‘would the interest rate be lower if we could add a guarantee from the department of agriculture?’”

Vilsack made his comments Friday in Council Bluffs when USDA announced $500 million dollars would be available in grants and guaranteed loans for small meat processors.

Chad Tentinger is the company’s developer. “We believe there is a capacity issue we need to expand on and we also believe that there is a lot of young men and women with a lot of talent that want to stay in this business.”

Tentinger says the $325 million facility located south of Council Bluffs off Interstate 29 in Mills County will begin processing 1,500 head per day in the winter of 2023 after breaking ground in the spring of 2022. “Our focus is to simply add capacity and work with the farmers and producers to make sure there’s always a market, a profitable market, for them to participate in.”

Tentinger says the plant will employ 750 workers with an annual economic impact estimated at $1.1 billion.

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