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Cloverdale Farmers Plan to Buy Minot Plant

by 5m Editor
25 January 2008, at 10:52am

NORTH DAKOTA — Pig farmers in the Upper Midwest and Canada's prairie provinces plan to buy a majority interest in Cloverdale's Minot slaughter plant, North Dakota

A report by the Associate Press said that the Cloverdale Growers' Alliance Cooperative, a group of about 60 hog farmers from North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota, has signed a letter of intent to buy a controlling interest in the Minot plant. The co-op has supplied Mandan-based Cloverdale Foods Co. for the past decade.

A business plan is being drafted and the co-op will now begin a push to sign up more farmers in its current area - namely South Dakota and Canada, said Daryl Dukart, rancher and general manager of the group.

"We're hoping to have this done in the next 90 days. It's been 10 years of continuous work. This has kind of been a producer dream," he added.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Cloverdale will remain a minority partner in the plant and will continue to handle management. TJ Russell, the company's president and CEO, said all 50 full-time workers will keep their jobs.

Russell and Dukart said the new arrangement will guarantee farmers a market and provide them better returns for their hogs. It will also create a more reliable hog supply and reduce procurement costs.

Russell said the new arrangement might also lead to sales to some Pacific Rim markets.

The grower group is currently capable of supplying around 60,000 hogs a year to the Minot plant - less than half of what the facility slaughters. The co-op hopes to gain enough members to have the capacity for 150,000 hogs annually, said Dukart.

Russell said he expects most hog farmers who sell to the Minot plant to join the grower group.

"If you raise any livestock, part of your risk is to make sure you have a place to have them processed," he added.

Craig Jarolimek, a managing partner of the North Dakota Sow Center LLP farrowing operation, which ships young pigs to Iowa to be fattened for slaughter, does not expect opposition to the Cloverdale Growers' Alliance plan to own the Minot plant. The North Dakota Sow Center does not send hogs to the Cloverdale plant.

"Anytime the pork industry is growing, expanding and utilising our natural assets in North Dakota, such as our land base, grain and our climate, I think it's good," he said.

Jarolimek said non-alliance farmers who want to sell to the plant will have to make a business decision on whether it will benefit them to join the grower group.

5m Editor