One word can describe the pork industry’s reaction to the city council’s latest decision to reject a Prestage Foods of Iowa’s proposal to build to $240 million state-of-the-art pork processing plant to Mason City, Iowa: disappointment.
Dave Warner, director of communications for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), explained the group's reaction in that word.
“The ability to process product is critical to the pork industry, and a new plant in Mason City would have been beneficial,” he told PORK Network.
The Prestage pork processing plant was announced in March and was designed to employ as many as 1,700 workers. Its current design included a 650,000 sq. ft. hog processing facility that would have operated on one shift, processing 10,000 hogs per day and producing 600 million pounds of pork annually. Click here to read more.
The plant was met with push-back from the community. Neighbors raised concerns about odors and effects on air and water. According to the local Globe Gazette, others in the community, such as former city planner and economic development director Pam Myhre, claimed the plant’s wages were too low and government subsidies would have to come into play eventually.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, 63 people spoke for (14) or against (48) the measure. The meeting lasted seven hours, ending at 2 a.m. Wednesday, ending on a 3 to 3 tie. A tie vote on a motion represents a loss.
Watch the video below to see the city council’s meeting, including those community members who raised their support or concern for the plant:
The pork industry responded with frustration.
Prestage Farms released a statement saying, “While we are disappointed, we believe in a bright future for agriculture and wish the people of Mason City all the best."
Ron Birkenholz, director of communications for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, echoed the industry’s dissatisfaction in the vote.
“We're disappointed that the project was defeated,” Birkenholz told PORK Network. “The plant would have served the pork industry very well and helped many independent pork producers by giving them another market for their pigs.”
He added, “It remains to be seen what Prestage Farms' next move will be.”