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

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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