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Northern Beef Packers anticipates 2011 opening

Courtesy photoThe Northern Beef Packers project located near Aberdeen, SD, has been in the works for nearly five years and is expected to be operational by the end of 2011.

The Northern Beef Packers (NBP) project has been in the making for nearly five years, and while there are numerous skeptics who have yet to be convinced that the plant’s doors will ever open, Jim Barringer, Aberdeen Development Corporation, says differently.

“NBP is a large project that’s been five years in the making,” said Barringer. “For those with legitimate concerns about some of the ups and downs of the project that were made very public, I understand that. This has been very public since step one, and we couldn’t expect a project of this magnitude to be problem-free. Let’s keep in mind that this is a multi-million dollar project, where thousands of dollars have been raised by investors, not just in the U.S., but around the world. Quite frankly, in some regard, the public doesn’t have a complete comprehension of how challenging a project like this might be and expect things to be going in a few short months. The reality is this plant will be up and running in 2011. By the end of the year, NBP is expected to be producing and operational. In fact, they are hiring right now.”

Barringer has a reason to be excited about NBP. The project will bring substantial economic growth to his community, as well as the tri-state area. This mid-sized, regional packing plant is scheduled to open in the fall and will employ about 560 workers at startup, harvesting 463,000 beef cattle annually.



A study conducted by Rod Bowling, an economist and meat packing industry specialist from Agri-Solutions, projected that South Dakota and the region will get a $10-billion economic boost in the first five years of operation from the startup of NBP, with more than 7,000 jobs created in spin-off industries as a result of the opening.

“This is a significant economic engine for South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota,” said Barringer. “Some say the economic analysis was a bit exaggerated. I tell those folks that even if they cut that number in half, that’s still a huge growth for the tri-state area. The magnitude of this project is going to be huge for this area. This project will catapult this community and state. The agriculture community is even telling us that people in Montana are keeping their eyes on this plant. This project is long overdue, and, quite frankly, South Dakota should have had a packing plant decades ago. This is an important segment of our economy in South Dakota.”



If the plant opens and can continue to be operational in the future, despite the challenges of infrastructure and housing in the area, this could mean positive things for the beef industry, something many producers will wait to see to believe. However, many are excited about the blossoming opportunity for the beef industry.

“We’re pleased to see the NBP project moving toward completion and look forward to having another buyer in the market for our quality South Dakota cattle,” said Bill Slovek, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) president. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re optimistic the new plant will be a boost for our state’s cattle industry.”

Barringer agrees and believes this will help boost the cattle business in the state.

“South Dakota has the best cattle in the country, and with the interest by foreign investors and potential purchasers, there is a significant opportunity to capture dollars in the Asian market, as well,” said Barringer. “Couple that with South Dakota Certified™ Beef, where you are able to verify where the calf was born, raised and fattened, that’s going to put us in a great position to market beef.”

“South Dakota Certified™ Beef is an age- and source-verified program that ensures the quality and consistency of the beef that is born, raised, and processed within our state,” explained Ty Eschenbaum, value-added marketing specialist for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA). “It is the first branded program of its kind to offer quality beef to consumers that has been raised and processed by state-licensed cattle producers and processors. This makes our beef very attractive to not only American consumers but to foreign markets as well. With the Northern Beef Packers plant opening in the near future, this will provide a processing capacity that the South Dakota Certified program has never before had access to. This is a very positive thing for our state’s producers.”

NBP now has a cattle buyer on staff. John Demmers is available to speak with producers at 308-382-1534.

“This is going to be huge for our state,” said Steve Kaiser, who oversees public relations for NBP. “Fuel prices have completely decimated profits for producers and having a facility closer to home will lower some of those trucking costs.”

As the state anticipates the opening of NBP, Bowling’s study reassures many that this plant will be able to flourish in the long run. According to the study, “The beef packing industry is now changing because of the high cost of fuels and other factors. The mega-size beef packing facilities are finding it more difficult to realize good profit returns in relation to the plants similar in size to NBP. Mid-sized, regional plants will become the most efficient in the industry.”


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