Farm Progress

Processing facility will provide a new market for hog farmers in northwest Iowa and bordering states.

June 28, 2017

3 Min Read
MORE HOGS, MORE JOBS: Executives of the new $300 million Seaboard Triumph pork processing plant at Sioux City say filling about 2,000 jobs over the next 18 months could be difficult because unemployment in the area is so low.

The new $300 million pork processing plant being built at Sioux City is set to open in September, giving hog farmers in northwest Iowa and bordering states a new market. Officials of Seaboard Triumph Foods outlined their plans at a press conference at the recent World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

“We’re still on schedule and getting close to opening,” says Mark Porter, CEO of Seaboard Triumph. “We are planning to begin operations no later than the first week of September.” The Sioux City plant is an equal partnership between Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods.

Company officials say the Sioux City location gives them good access to a supply of market-ready hogs. The plant has access to transportation, an experienced workforce and a pro-business environment. “We’re very happy to be in Sioux City,” says Terry Holton, president of Seaboard Foods.

New plant will help boost hog prices
The facility is initially set to process about 10,000 hogs per day in a single shift. Seaboard Triumph officials say they plan to expand to a second shift next year, raising daily processing capacity to 21,000 hogs.

Seaboard and Triumph will each supply one-third of the hogs for the packing plant from producers who already contract to sell to each company. The remaining one-third of the hogs will be purchased from independent producers. The companies have been actively seeking production contracts with local farmers in recent months, preparing for the plant’s opening.

“One of the questions we get is what impact will the plant have on hog prices?” says Holton. “It will probably raise them, because we have new capacity and it will add to the demand for hogs. That’s how the market works.”

Filling 2,100 Iowa jobs may be tough
Seaboard Triumph plans to slowly ramp up production this fall as it trains new employees. The plant will create 1,100 new jobs, accounting for $48 million in payroll initially. The starting wage for production workers is expected to be $15. Holton says the majority of the jobs will be filled by local residents, adding to wages in a region that already has a relatively low unemployment rate. Sioux City’s unemployment rate has been running slightly below Iowa’s 3.1% unemployment rate.

Seaboard Triumph is also working with city and state leaders to assist immigrant refugees who are in need of jobs to fill some positions, says Porter. While the plant will initially employ 1,100 workers, officials expect to add an additional 1,000 workers by next summer, when it begins operating a second shift. Filling the 2,100 Iowa jobs may be tough, considering there are competing livestock and poultry processing plants in the area.

Immigrant refugee workers can help
In addition to recruiting workers regionally, Seaboard Triumph is working with the state of Iowa to make Sioux City a primary refugee resettlement location. The company has also talked with government agencies about supplying workers through a federal visa program.

“If we create the right working environment for people and offer fair benefits and wages, we believe we can attract the workers we need,” says Holton.

Another pork processing plant is under construction in northern Iowa. Prestage Foods, headquartered in North Carolina, is building a $240 million pork processing plant that’s expected to open in 2019. This plant, in Wright County in north-central Iowa, is expected to initially employ 920 workers.

 

 

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