Ranchers Upbeat About South Dakota Beef Plant

Cattle ranchers in the Northern Plains who have been waiting nearly six years for a new slaughterhouse in northern South Dakota are excited that the facility is almost fully operational. They say it will provide such benefits as savings on transportation costs.

The Northern Beef Packers plant in Aberdeen, SD, was cleared for testing and limited production on Oct. 16, and is authorized to slaughter and process up to 200 cattle/day. Starting Nov. 12, it can increase production to 500 head/day if it continues to pass inspections.

Construction on the $109-million plant began five years ago. Problems including financial issues, flooding and lawsuits have repeatedly pushed back the opening date The plant will eventually process 1,500 cattle/day from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

"This is huge," says Herman Schumacher, part-owner of LDL Cattle Co. near Ipswich and one of several producers who have been furnishing cattle to Northern Beef since Oct. 16. "We are going to see cattle feeding come back to where it belongs."

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