Cattlemen’s Heritage to construct US$325m subsidiary in Iowa, welcomes new senate bill on meat processing  

US – Cattlemen’s Heritage, an investor-owned beef processing company led by Chad Tentinger, is going to have a US$325million new beef processing subsidiary plant in southwest Iowa, Mills County, to process roughly 400,000 head of cattle each year.

The 500,000-square-foot Cattlemen’s Heritage beef-harvesting plant, located in northern Mills County just south of Council Bluffs, still under construction, is planned to harvest 1,500 heads per day.

This new meatpacking plant in Southwest Iowa and Cattlemen’s Heritage are both scheduled to be in operation in late 2023 and employ 750 people in each plant.

Tentinger said weak cattle prices, strong consumer demand, and available investment capital that had been sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic helped drive the decision to build the facility.

He added that the company, which expects to process cattle from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, will meet a growing call for regional facilities to compete with the nation’s four largest meatpackers, which process about 85% of the nation’s beef.

The plant will focus on buying cattle from small, family-owned operations, which are many in the country, said Tentinger, who also owns TenCorp. Inc., a cattle industry construction firm.

He stated: “We have no interest in buying our cattle from a couple of large feedlots, we want to buy cattle from as many producers as possible.”

Meat analysts in the US say the added processing capacity of meat with the construction of the plant can help address major disruptions the cattle industry has seen in recent years.

A case in hand is the fire accident that idled a Tyson Foods beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, in August 2019 and the coronavirus outbreak last year sickened thousands of workers and temporarily closed meatpacking plants across the Midwest.

The pandemic also led to a cut in processing capacity and drove down prices for producers while increasing profits for meatpackers and raising prices for consumers.

US’s Senate bill aims to expand local meat processing capacity

Meanwhile, Chad Tentinger, also a cattle rancher in Iowa, has given his support to the bill to change regulations, increase meat processing capacity and allow livestock auctions to work with small and regional packaging plants recently introduced in the US senate house.

The proposed legislation instructs the Secretary of Agriculture to amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow livestock market owners to open and operate small meatpacking plants.

Those owners, under the proposed amendment cap, could operate a meat packing facility processing fewer than 2,000 animals per day or 700,000 animals per year.

The Senate bill received support from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and a few livestock auctions in New Mexico and Iowa, who commented that updating the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow for their participation in the small and regional processing sector.

Allowing livestock auction owners to invest in local and regional meat packers will expedite the safe processing of meat, increase competition within the industry that is 85% controlled by the Big Four processing plant, and, ultimately, lower meat costs for consumers, Senator Joni Ernst said.

Currently, outdated regulations hinder producers’ ability to increase capacity at livestock processing facilities.

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