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Pork processing company chooses Mason City for mega-development (photos and video)


This news story was published on March 21, 2016.
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Mayor Eric Bookmeyer makes the announcement Monday that Prestage Farms, Inc. plans to build in Mason City

Mayor Eric Bookmeyer makes the announcement Monday that Prestage Farms, Inc. plans to build in Mason City

MASON CITY – Mayor Eric Bookmeyer, North Iowa Corridor CEO Chad Schreck and Governor Terry Branstad today announced a mega-development hog processing plant for Mason City.

In a major announcement Monday morning at the Historic Park Inn Ballroom, Mayor Bookmeyer introduced Prestage Farms, Inc., which has selected Mason City for a $240 million development that Governor Terry Branstad called one of the biggest development projects in the state he’s ever seen.

Company owners, including founder William Prestage and his wife Marsha were on hand, making the trip all the way from North Carolina.  They expressed their excitement in bringing their family business to Mason City.

Prestage Farms COO Ron Prestage graciously took questions from the audience, which was packed with the Mason City council, all three Cerro Gordo Supervisors, Mason City Schools Superintendent Anita Micich, chamber of commerce officials, past city council members, members of the press, and many more.

Mr. Prestage says the state-of-the-art facility will be as light on waste, smell and environmental impact as possible, when questioned.  He admitted the hogs were “going to have a bad day” but leading up to that day, they would be made as comfortable as possible and treated as ethically as possible.  For example, waste water would be heated using solar energy and used to warm the plant’s floors, to keep the hogs happy and content.

He was also asked about financial incentives; which are still being worked out.  The city of Mason City intends to give a 50% tax break to the company over 10 years. However, Mr. Schreck says Prestage Inc. would still be the largest taxpayer in the city.  See the accompanying video for much more.

Once city and state officials approve details of the development, ground could be broken on the city’s south-central side as early as late summer.

General vicinity of the urban renewal district the city council will approve soon, where a pork processing plant could be located.

General vicinity of the urban renewal district the city council will approve soon, where a pork processing plant could be located.

As stated during the announcement, Prestage Foods of Iowa, LLC intends to build a state-of-the-art, pork processing facility on a proposed tract in Mason City, Iowa, on the south edge of town. This one shift plant will employ as many as 1,000 Iowans with a total capital investment over $240 million.

As many as 10,000 hogs would be processed in each shift.

“We are excited to take the next logical step in vertical integration by building a new high tech pork plant in Mason City, IA,” commented Ron Prestage on behalf of the Prestage family. “We see this as an opportunity to secure the future of our family business, its employees, and our contract growers, whether they are in the Carolinas, MS, OK, TX, or IA. We have been impressed with the help and support provided by local and state officials, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, NPPC, and the National Pork Board. We have always believed that our family and employees most be engaged in the communities in which we operate and the industry we represent. Having produced market hogs in IA for the past dozen years, we believe Mason City is the right place for us to strategically build this new plant,” added Dr. Prestage.

Jere Null, COO — Prestage Foods of Iowa explains his company's excitement to be coming to Mason City

Jere Null, COO — Prestage Foods of Iowa explains his company’s excitement to be coming to Mason City

Prestage Farms believes that the consolidation of the pork packing industry has decreased competition for live hogs and helped depress prices to hog producers. As a large family-owned, independent hog producer, Prestage believes that vertical integration is necessary to protect its hog production investment in Iowa and elsewhere, and to create additional opportunities for independent producers in Iowa to maximize value for their livestock. “With the importance of Iowa to pork production in the United States, it is only natural that our first pork processing plant would locate here. Prestage Foods looks forward to building a long-lasting bond with the people of Mason City and North Central Iowa. The end result will be to provide delicious pork to people all over the world,” said Jere Null, COO — Prestage Foods of Iowa. “This facility will be built with exports in mind. Global consumers already know of the goodness of Iowa pork. These consumers will place additional value on the significant investment that we are making in engineering to insure that this plant produces the highest level of safe food available anywhere in the world,” says Null.

The project, as currently planned, will involve the design and construction of a new 650,000 square foot hog processing facility that will operate on one shift, processing 10,000 hogs per day and producing 600 million pounds of pork annually. While timing for a second shift is yet to be determined, the facility will be designed, but will not be initially constructed, for future expansion to two shifts. The plant will utilize the latest innovations in processing and automation technology to help ensure that it is a world leader in food, employee, and environmental safety. Construction is set to begin, pending finalization of state permits and approvals, in the summer of 2016 with completion and first shift operations beginning in mid-2018. Initially operating one shift, the plant will employ as many as 1,000 people with a total capital investment in excess of $240 million. Null added, “The people of Prestage Foods will work relentlessly to make this facility a source of pride for Mason City. We are impressed with the quality of the people we have met in Cerro Gordo County and Mason City, and feel that we share the same rural “small town” values in our home back in North Carolina.”

Marsha and Bill Prestage

Marsha and Bill Prestage

Prestage Farms, Inc. is a multi-generational family-owned and operated business started by Bill and Marsha Prestage in 1983. Mr. and Mrs. Prestoge, along with their three sons, still own and actively operate this multifaceted business. Today, Prestoge Farms, along with its affiliates, is a Top 5 producer of quality pork and turkey that employs more than 2,000 people company-wide, contracts with more than 450 farm families in seven states, and produces more than 1 billion pounds of meat annually. Prestoge Farms, Inc. is headquartered in Clinton, NC, and has operations in Iowa, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma.

Historic announcement made today in Mason City: Prestage Farms, Inc. pork processing plant destined to be built here…

Posted by NorthIowaToday.com on Monday, March 21, 2016

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35 Responses to Pork processing company chooses Mason City for mega-development (photos and video)

  1. Avatar

    Tom Willett Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    This outfit was thrown out of North Carolina. .25 million gallon manure spill was last straw for n.c.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 23, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Not so, @Tom Willett. Their headquarters are in Clinton, N.C.

  2. Avatar

    Tom Willett Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    The whole County will stink & water quality will grow much worse…for $30,000 a year jobs???

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 23, 2016 at 9:43 am

      How much do you make? Why do you think it is alright to deny people work that needs it? 30K is a lot of money to a lot of people.

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    People in Mason City always whine about something,keep whining idiots.Keep it up and we will have 1000 -2000 new people in town that will work,buy homes,spend money,and soon will run this town.We wanted jobs here,well there coming.People will move here just for that fact of having a job.We are about to have many different ethnic groups moving in.And this is going to be a learning experience for some closed minded people in our old town of Mason City.And this can be a very good thing.I still think some Mason City and surrounding area citizens have great work ethic to fill a lot of these jobs.People moving in instead of out how can that be bad for us.Can’t make 100%of the people happy all the time.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Is it just me or does Hizzoner the Mayor look like he just keeps getting fatter?

    He’s starting to look like Chris Christie.

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    This town has NO idea what it’s in for. Forget the environmental hazards, there is no way this town will be able to support the impact on law enforcement or health care. You just need to look at Hampton or Clarion to see the effects. We have one bilingual police officer and unfortunately his second language is not Spanish. Not to mention the local schools. MCHS is already out of control, this will be devastating. This is not a prejudice issue, it’s a fact. Unfortunately all of this Lilly White politicians have never been out of this area to understand the effects this will have. Tools like Bookmeyer just want to shove the “economic benefits” sown out throats. A guy who the only Spanish he knows is how to order half of the menu at Cancun.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 22, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      i’d be more concerned about the somalis migrating down from minnesota. you’d think their faith would prevent them from working in a pork processing plant, but islam only brands eating – not handling – as haram. in minnesota meat packing plants most employees are not hispanic but actually somali muslims.

      throughout my life i’ve had a LOT of exposure to somalis, in minnesota and overseas, and while some of the clans are better than others, my overall impression is sadly not good at all.

      • Avatar

        Dear Abby Reply Report comment

        March 22, 2016 at 1:44 pm

        Somalians are attracted to lutefisk, in fact they are addicted to the stuff, so they gravitate to the lutefisk capital of the world. When you have finished preparing the dish cover your lutefisk tightly in Tupperware so that the aroma doesnt escape and you shouldnt have any problems in Iowa

  6. Avatar

    Anonie Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I’m happy about the processing plant coming to town. Remember how people whined about the cement dust and then cried when the plant closed? I must add that the carpet in that ballroom is about the ugliest I’ve seen.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 22, 2016 at 5:02 am

    The smell wont bother me, as I have to keep my windows shut all summer to keep the noise of the golden grain alcohol plant out, aww remember the nice cool summer nights, the windows were wide open and the cool brezze came in, remember is about it

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Here’s a link about the ethics of prestage farms CEO. Do your research folks! They were also run out of North Carolina due to a huge manure spill.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/there-may-be-more-to-pork-pres-elect-ronald-william-prestage-than-meets-the-sty

  9. Avatar

    Frank Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I want to know what they are paying. And don’t give that baloney that McKesson did with the $40,000 “average”. That includes the 5 million the CEO makes and the minimum wage that 90% of the workers make.

    Give us the median wage of a MC plant worker. Not the mean average.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 29, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      I’m with you on wanting to know what the real wages are – this average wage slop they’re spreading is a dodge. Exactly what are the starting wages per hour for line workers, etc… they know what they are, but they don’t want to say. They muddy the math with that “average” talk. Well, Wilt Chamberlain and my mother averaged 6-1 in height, but neither was that height. Not being clear, upfront about it mean’s workers will be heading to the food bank, social services, etc… I’m afraid. This could be a good company if they don’t hide the facts.

    • Allen

      Allen Reply Report comment

      March 21, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      If this is true about this company, I’ll have to change my mind about this company building in this town/state. We have to protect our environment for future generations.

      • Avatar

        Larry Reply Report comment

        March 21, 2016 at 10:31 pm

        It is true & exactly. Mason City does not need this. Us & our future generations deserve better. This is sickening.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        March 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm

        then there is the water issue. ethanol production has already brought our aquifer levels to an all time low, and now we’re inviting am unquenchable beast that will make golden grain look good in comparison. it is hard to believe looking out the window, but in a longer perspective water shortage is going to become a very real problem in north iowa.

  10. Avatar

    John Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    This will help transportation costs for local farmers as well, not having to truck their pork a greater distance. The ripple effect on all local businesses will be huge. They might eventually get to 2,000 but to support those workers, the population will grow much larger than that in the products and service industries.

  11. Avatar

    John Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    This is the big win we have been looking for after losing companies here the last 30 years or so, this will replace those and more.

  12. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    The real problem might be where are these hogs going to come from. Even though the plant is environmentally friendly how many new hog confinements will go up in cerro gordo to supply this plant. I would worry more about the producer side of this to raise the stink. Will there be hog confinements on every corner in cerro gordo

    • NIT Publisher

      NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      March 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Let’s ask the supervisors about this

    • Avatar

      Reality Check Reply Report comment

      March 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      In terms of production Prestage Farms already operates large hog operations in 7 North Central Iowa communities. The animals are currently transported out of our area for processing. I suspect that they have a large piece of the production chain already in place.

  13. Avatar

    Larry Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Sickening. 🙁

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Another stink factory

    • Avatar

      LVS Reply Report comment

      March 21, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      The smell of money.

      • Avatar

        Larry Reply Report comment

        March 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

        No, the smell of fear, slaughter & decay.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          March 22, 2016 at 7:14 am

          Do you like to eat? Do you eat pork? I’ll bet you do or are you one of the weirdo veggies?

        • Avatar

          Otis Reply Report comment

          March 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm

          Hey Larry….. if you want to smell something nasty, check out the Pole Barn in NS. The aroma from them hogs would choke a buzzard.

  15. Avatar

    Watchdog Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Congratulations, this will be a great addition to Mason City. The tax break sucks but that is the way the game is played.

    Hat’s off to Mason City’s development staff and those that worked to make this happen!

  16. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    5 4 3 2 1 waiting for the hate to come from the wackos about our 1000 jobs coming to mason city and to bitch about bookmeyer. This is going to be huge for the city. We were built on migrant workers coming here to work at the cement plants, deckers, brick and tile and the railroads.If done right this could be the driving force to revitalize Mason City and North Iowa. If your going to buy a house you better do it now or if you are selling should you wait. .

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 22, 2016 at 11:11 am

      That is a great point about the real estate issues that will come from this….

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        March 22, 2016 at 12:27 pm

        definitely a great point … if your house is a would-be $15k meath house on north end. for the rest of us that holds normal jobs, getting the house on the market now BEFORE the somalis and illegals arrive is the fiscally rational move. good bye mason city! hello clear lake, allow me to introduce the pile of tax money i brought with me!

  17. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    March 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I believe this will be a good thing for Mason City. Not just for the people that will work there but for the other business that will profit from them being here. We lost a lot when the old Deckers went down. Maybe this will help get us started again.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      I too believe this “could” be a great thing for MC/North Iowa – IF – the company is open and honest at every step of the process and to date I think they’re being dodgy about the ‘real’ wages – not average wages. But again, this can be a great opportunity.