Iowa pig farmers thankful for Prestage decision

Iowa pig farmers thankful for Prestage decision

Iowa is going to get a new pork packing plant and pig farmers couldn’t be happier.

The Wright County Board of Supervisors approved an economic development agreement with Prestage Foods of Iowa on Aug. 22 that clears the way for Prestage to build a $240 million, ultra-modern pork processing facility near Eagle Grove.

“As an independent producer, I look forward to having the opportunity to utilize this plant and work with the Prestage family in the coming year,” said Stuart Swanson of Galt, an avid supporter of the project. “I was glad to see that the supervisors thoroughly studied the project and listened to the people of Wright County. Having Prestage in Wright County will be good for the future of our county and the future of agriculture in our state.”

Prestage Foods of Iowa originally tried to build the plant in Mason City, but it proved to be a contentious issue and was ultimately rejected by the city council there. Wright County officials welcomed Prestage with open arms, enjoyed stronger all-around project support and approved the agreement 3 to 0 in the final vote.

“I was very proud to be a supporter of this project and was impressed by the support from all parts of our county and the agriculture community,” Swanson said. “This unified support helped bring this project to reality.”

The North Carolina-based Prestage family has raised pigs in Iowa and several southern states for years and has developed a solid reputation in the industry, something that is not lost on farmers and those in the know.

“It’s really important that you deal with people with integrity, honesty, morals and that you can trust,” said Harold Trask, a past president of the National Pork Producers Council from Renwick. “Prestage has been around long enough in North Carolina and Iowa and you know if something goes south, they will do everything in their power to make it right and fix it.”

Farmers who own and raise their own hogs stand to gain the most from the new packing facility. Prestage plans to process 10,000 hogs a day when the plant becomes operational in late 2018 and 4,000 head of the daily quota will need to be purchased from independent producers.

“It definitely gives us another market and it’s somebody that not’s participating in the pork packing industry today, which is extremely unusual,” said past Iowa Pork Producers Association and NPPC president Jon Caspers of Swaledale. “There’s consolidation going on and there’s more concentration in the packing industry and here we’re going in the other direction in a big way. It’s something we haven’t seen in a long time and the prospects are nothing but positive for the industry in this state.”

There is currently a disparity in production and packing capacity in Iowa. Production currently exceeds capacity by 7 percent, so additional shackle space is critical for the industry. IPPA was a strong advocate for the plant.

“The Iowa Pork Producers Association thanks all of our friends in the ag community for assisting us in rallying support for this plant,” said IPPA President Al Wulfekuhle of Quasqueton. “It was truly a group effort and is great news for Iowa pork producers.”