Q: Can you elaborate on the recent meeting that was held to discuss the possibility of a processing facility being built in the Black Hills?
On July 8th, an informational meeting was held in Hot Springs with approximately 110 people in attendance to learn more about the opportunity of building a smaller processing plant somewhere around the area. Numerous experts were brought together to discuss the details that go into such an investment.
Q: What are the next steps in the process of building this facility?
We’re looking at a timeline of somewhere between 18 months to three years to get this plant built. The next step we’re going to take is to form a legal entity, adopt some by-laws and form a board of directors so then we will be able to apply for some grants. We currently have a location in mind, we’re just waiting for some experts to take a look at it and give us their opinions.
Q: How will this plant be funded besides grants?
If you are a beef producer and you want to be a part of the coop, you can pay in “x” amount of dollars. These producers will also have a requirement to send a certain number of animals through the plant. Right now, we are only considering beef and buffalo because they take the same sized hooks. In the future, their may be an opportunity to process pork.
Q: Are you expecting any labor force issues? How many folks will this facility employ?
Yes, labor issues will most likely be our biggest challenge. Harvest rate will determine the number of employees. If we kill about 50 head of cattle per week, we will need approximately 5-8 people to cut meat, based on 8-10 hour shifts, five days a week. On top of that we will need a plant manager and an overall manager.
Q: Besides labor issues, what are some of the other challenges that will come along with this processing facility?
Finding adequate financing to build the plant is one of the major challenges. There are financing programs available, zero percent interest loans, the CARES Act has some funds available, and South Dakota has funds available.
We will need to work with the state of South Dakota for our permit and inspection certifications. After that, we will work with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for the federal requirements to become USDA inspected, so we will be able to sell our products across state and international lines.
Q: Do you have any closing statements?
It’s a long road ahead to get this processing plant running. With that being said, we have a good bunch of folks on the board to make this plant a reality.
If our model works, hopefully we’ll start to see similar smaller processing plants pop up all across the Midwest.