The Prestage Farms of Iowa pork processing facility planned for construction in rural Wright County, Iowa, is the kind of bread-and-butter economic development that has defined Iowa’s leadership in food production for generations, the Iowa Soybean Assn. (ISA) said this week as it announced support for the proposed project. It’s also the type of project that helps insulate the state from steep job cuts that can occur when the nation’s economy hits turbulence, the group added.
A public hearing hosted July 25 by the Wright County Board of Supervisors in Clarion, Iowa, provided two hours of public comment regarding the state-of-the-art facility proposed by Prestage Farms of Iowa. Nearly 125 people attended the meeting.
“The vast majority of comments were in support of the project,” said ISA member Dean Coleman of Humboldt, Iowa, who attended and spoke at the hearing. “The plan put forth by Prestage and county leaders is well thought-out. The new facility will offer good-paying jobs, environmental protections and new demand for pork and grain. It will be good for the people and communities of north-central Iowa.”
As an Iowa soybean industry leader, Coleman has traveled the world marketing Iowa-grown soybeans and other agricultural products. The project, he said, is in keeping with the state’s strong reputation as a leading provider of high-quality food in a location ideally suited for agriculture.
“Pork is our number-one customer — and a domestic one at that,” he said. “Projects like the one being proposed for Wright County are a win-win for communities, farmers and everyone who relies on an economy that’s working and producing.”
Last year, Iowa farmers harvested a record 554 million bu. of soybeans. More than one out of every four rows of Iowa soybeans is consumed by the nearly 40 million head of hogs raised annually in the state, according to ISA research.
The Prestage project will boost market opportunities for grain farmers like Coleman who produce feed for pigs.
The proposed $240 million pork processing plant would be located approximately five miles south of Eagle Grove on Highway 17. According to the company, the facility initially will employ more than 900 workers at an average wage of $15.75 per hour plus benefits.
Prestage Farms said the location is at the center of Iowa's hog production area, with 6.5 million hogs marketed within 250 miles, and it is also near established agricultural labor markets in Wright, Hamilton and Webster counties. Additionally, the location is rural and remote, with no residential neighborhoods nearby.
The Wright County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a second hearing on the proposed facility for Aug. 1.