Chinese-owned pork plant would be Montana’s first | TSLN.com

Chinese-owned pork plant would be Montana’s first

Montana’s pork industry would get a major boost under a plan by Gov. Brian Schweitzer to bring a Chinese-backed processing facility to Shelby, MT, located in the northern part of the state near the Canadian border.

After a similar courting of Danish investors failed to lead anywhere five years ago, Schweitzer turned to the Chinese, who hope to build a USDA-certified facility that would process 1.2 million hogs annually and employ 500 people.

It would be the state’s first commercial-scale meat processing facility, Schweitzer told Meatingplace.

“Right now we’re exporting meat out of state,” he said. “The Chinese consume 50 percent of the pork on the planet. They don’t want to compete with themselves,” he said of their interest in the Montana facility. “They want new production.”

Shelby, MT, lies at the intersection of Interstate 15 into Alberta and U.S. Route 2, which connects with Interstate 90. It’s also on a major rail route between Seattle and Chicago.

Schweitzer said that several of the state’s approximately 50 commercial-scale producers are planning to expand if the facility is built. Currently the state’s pork producers send most of their hogs to California and Utah for processing. “These producers would become much larger, much more cost-competitive,” Schweitzer said.

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China is the world’s largest swine-producing market, and consumes much of the 53.6 million tons of pork it generates. China is one of the largest overseas markets for U.S. pork products, sparked partially by both inflation and disease problems at home.

Schweitzer said that the investors plan to visit the proposed site within the next month and that the project may break ground as early as this spring.

– Livestock Marketing Association

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