A multi-generational North Carolina family today announced the formation of a new company with plans to build a new $240 million fresh pork processing facility in Mason City.
Prestage Foods of Iowa, LLC, announced plans for the facility at a news conference in Mason City this morning that drew a crowd of around 100 people, including members of the Prestage Family, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and local government and economic development officials.
“Having produced market hogs in Iowa for the past 12 years, we believe Mason City is the right place for us to strategically build this new plant,” said Dr. Ron Prestage, DVM, on behalf of the Prestage family. “We see this as an opportunity to secure the future of our family business, its employees and our contract growers, whether they are in the Carolinas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas or Iowa.”
Construction of the state-of-the-art, 650,000 square foot facility is expected to begin this summer on a proposed 150 acre site just south of Mason City, pending finalization of state approvals. At completion in mid-2018, the plant will employ as many as 1,000 people and process 10,000 hogs a day, producing 600 million pounds of pork annually.
We have a very limited view of what our priorities are, Prestage said.
“One, it’s going to have our name on it. Second, I’m sure everyone is aware of how important food safety has become and if it’s going to be the newest processing plant in the world, it needs to be the most innovative and highest tech plant in the world. Lastly, as a veterinarian, we’re designing this plant with animal welfare in mind and doing things the most ethical way possible,” Prestage said.
Prestage Farms believes that the consolidation of the pork packing industry has decreased competition for live hogs and helped depress prices to hog producers. As a large family-owned, independent hog producer, Prestage believes this step is necessary to protect its hog production investment in Iowa and elsewhere, and to create additional opportunities for independent producers in Iowa to maximize value for their livestock.
Today’s announcement comes as welcome news to local, independent pig farmers because approximately half of the hogs purchased by Prestage Foods will come from the spot market.
“It’s great news for us,” said Norm Schmitt, a local pig farmer from Rudd. “It sounds like they are pretty well devoted to helping out the spot market and increasing price discovery, which is a big deal because not many pigs are being used for that.”
“This new plant will draw pigs from northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and all around here that have been going to other plants and it will provide a more consistent and spot market price for negotiated pigs,” commented Trent Thiele, a pig farmer from Elma and the vice president of resources for the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
While timing for a second shift is yet to be determined, the facility will be designed, but will not be initially constructed for future expansion to two shifts. The plant will utilize the latest innovations in processing and automation technology to help ensure that it is a world leader in food, employee, and environmental safety.
“With the importance of Iowa to pork production in the United States, it is only natural that our first pork processing plant would locate here,” said Jere Null, Prestage Foods chief operating officer. “Prestage Foods looks forward to building a long-lasting bond with the people of Mason City and north central Iowa.
Prestage Farms, Inc., was started by Bill and Marsha Prestage in 1983. Mr. and Mrs. Prestage, along with their three sons, still own and actively operate this multifaceted business. Today, Prestage Farms, along with its affiliates, is a top five producer of quality pork and turkey that employs more than 2,000 people company-wide, contracts with more than 450 farm families in seven states, and produces more than 1 billion pounds of meat annually. Prestage Farms, Inc. is headquartered in Clinton, NC.