South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) directors toured the Northern Beef Packers (NBP) facility in Aberdeen Tuesday, June 25, providing a first-hand look at the first meat processing plant in the nation to be built from the ground up in the past 30 years.
“It is a state-of-the-art plant,” says Gary Deering, Sturgis, S.D. rancher and SDBIC director. “It was very impressive. It’s exciting to have a packing plant of this level in South Dakota.”
NBP began processing cattle on a limited basis in the fall of 2012. The plant, which is 420,000 square feet on 101 acres, currently employs 330 people. When operating at full capacity, NBP is expected to employ almost 600 workers and harvest 1,500 head of cattle per day. Dr. Temple Grandin, well-known designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, helped NBP with the design of its cattle holding area and the infrastructure to move cattle in for slaughter in the most efficient and humane manner possible.
“It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to see a brand new packing plant,” says SDBIC Director of Industry Relations Tracey (Orsburn) Walsh. “The majority of our directors took advantage of the tour.”
SDBIC Director Eric Sumption, a beef producer from Frederick, S.D., says that as a director of the organization that administers the beef checkoff in the state it’s important to be familiar with all phases of the industry. “It’s not just about raising the calf, getting it to 500 pounds and then sending it to a feedlot,” insists Sumption. “It’s also about the processing end of the industry.”
During SDBIC’s quarterly business meeting following the morning tours, representatives from the Pennsylvania Beef Council (PBC) updated directors on promotion projects in the northeastern part of the country—a 12-state area that is home to 23% of the U.S. population but generates only 2% of beef checkoff dollars. For the past several years, SDBIC has partnered financially with PBC and the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI) to reach consumers in this highly populated area of the northeast.
PBC Executive Director Bridget Bingham and Director of Marketing and Communications Kristi Rooker Kassimer explained that in 2013, South Dakota’s checkoff dollars helped connect with more than 885,000 consumers at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Head of Charles Regatta, as well as informing food influencers at NYU B.A.N.D. (Beef Awareness, Nutritious, and Delicious) Farm Tours in New York and culinary students and chef instructors in a Beef in the Classroom project.
In other business, directors heard reports from the Promotions, Prime Promoter, Research and Executive committees, as well as from staff and South Dakota national directors serving on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Federation of State Beef Councils, and U.S. Meat Export Federation.
SDBIC will hold its annual meeting on September 14 during the Beef Bowl on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings.