June 28, 2022

Planned beef plant to benefit cattle producers

Construction is planned to begin in spring 2022 for a $325 million federally-inspected beef processing facility in Mills County to process 1,500 head per day, employ 750 workers and an annual economic impact is estimated at $1.1 billion.

Chad Tentinger, founder and owner of TenCorp Inc., project developer and an Iowa cattle producer, wants to provide a market for cattle raised by smaller, independent cattle producers. Cattlemen’s Heritage is a newly formed corporation and with its roots in livestock production, plans to open the plant in late 2023.

The facility will be situated on the Mills-Pottawattamie County line in western Iowa, fronted by Interstate 29, giving access to infrastructure and a good labor force. Ernie Goss with Goss & Associates conducted the economic impact study of the Cattlemen’s Heritage Beef Plant. He says the facility will serve as a game changer for the surrounding counties by providing more than 3,300 jobs through construction and have a total impact of $6.4 million.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig championed the cause for providing more market access for Iowa’s cattle producers, as well as new jobs and the expansion of Iowa’s agriculture. “Creating more economic value to Iowa agriculture and the state’s livestock industry will help bring the next generation back to the farm,” Naig says. “This is important for the success and sustainability of the ag community and our state’s economy.”

Tentinger says Cattlemen’s Heritage wants to be able to help young farmers get into the cattle business and stay in the industry. The plant will start by harvesting about 800 head per day for the first several months and ramp up to 1,500 head per day by the end of the first year. A full workforce will be hired to be on hand when the plant opens.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association looks forward to the plant providing an opportunity to harvest cattle within the state of Iowa. “This facility will provide another market access for Iowa’s cattle producers with hopes of boosting cattle prices through competition and giving the state a needed economic boost for agriculture and the local area,” Matt Deppe, CEO of ICA says. “We look forward to having continued conversations with the Cattlemen’s Heritage group and how they can help our state’s cattle producers.”

A spokesperson for a proposed beef-processing facility held meetings this winter in western Iowa looking for investors in the $450 million project.

Construction is expected to begin this spring.

Bill Menner of The Bill Menner Group, an Iowa based consulting firm emphasizing in rural development projects, explained the plant and its impact on the Iowa cattle industry.

The plant will be designed to process cattle a day with one shift in operation five and one-half days a week. He said economists predict the plant will have a $1.1 billion impact annually.

“This is an economic development bonanza,” Menner told the audience at Quality Inn hotel. “Bonanza is not a big enough word. This plant is an opportunity for the state and its producers,” he said.

Menner said the plant will not be like other beef-processing plants in the state that have much greater daily volume and multiple shifts. He called those plants and their influence on the cattle industry unsustainable.

“It’s not supposed to be that way,” he said.

Menner said Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said there is lack of competition in the beef industry.

“This caught the attention of the federal government,” Menner said. “This is a big deal. The demand for beef is growing,” he said. “From the Missouri River to I-35 is rich with family-oriented produces and top quality beef.”

The plant will be on 132 acres of land with room for future expansion. The location was selected because of proximity to an interstate, railroad and experienced labor pool between Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs.

Menner said the plant’s four ideals are a sustainable operation, medium size, innovation and transparency and producer owned.

He said there is $75 million to $90 million available in grants to fund construction. Cattlemen’s Heritage is offering to sell 100,000 units to investors. The minimum purchase is 67 units for a total of $100,500. Each unit is $1,500.

The Bill Menner Group is an Iowa-based consulting firm specializing in rural development initiatives, community-based infrastructure, housing and health care.

Menner was appointed in 2009 by the Obama Administration to serve as the state director of USDA Rural Development in Iowa, charged with carrying out the Administration’s strategy for increasing economic opportunity and improving the quality of life for all rural Americans

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association contributed to this story.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.