New beef processing plant in Nebraska could help South Dakota ranchers

Construction of the Sustainable Beef plant in North Platte, Nebraska, will begin this fall.
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - A group of midwesterners has banded together to create a new meat processing plant, owned by ranchers.

Construction of the Sustainable Beef plant in North Platte, Nebraska, will begin this fall.

According to the New York Post, Nebraska rancher Rusty Kemp raised more than 300 million dollars to get this plant to become a reality.

It’s all part of an effort to combat the low prices ranchers face when selling cattle to be processed and packaged for consumers.

Although South Dakota has a number of local and small-scale processors, there’s only one large plant, DemKota, in Aberdeen and Sustainable Beef would actually be slightly closer for a number of west river ranchers.

Plus another processor in the area could mean more demand and higher prices for ranchers.

”Right now, we don’t have enough plants that are able to harvest the number of cattle that we have,” said Eric Jennings, president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. “And so a group of producers getting together and forming a co-op, if you look back, in history, a lot of reasons that agriculture had advancements in rural America was because of co-ops and so this is a continuation. Ranchers are seeing a problem and they’re banding together to try and fix it.”

DemKota, and the future Sustainable Beef, process about 12 to 15 hundred cattle a day but Jennings said the need is there, another 45 hundred cattle could be processed daily.

Steps are being taken on all levels.

Nationally, the conversation around transparency and pricing continues.

“Any business person understands the importance of price discovery,” said Representative Dusty Johnson while at a committee meeting. “It’s a critically important part of any function, and you can’t have price discovery if you don’t have transparency.”

Johnson proposed the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 Thursday, which passed unanimously in the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, and will help with transparency in things like pricing.

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