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Producers Back Pekin Pork Processing Plant

by 5m Editor
4 November 2010, at 8:27am

ILLINOIS, US - A pork processing plant in Pekin would provide much-needed support to hog farmers across the Midwest, says Illinois Pork Producers.

The possibility of a pork processing plant in Pekin, as reported last month by the Journal Star, would provide much-needed support to hog farmers across the Midwest, said an official with the Illinois Pork Producers.

A plant in Pekin would only be the third processing plant in Illinois, said Tim Maiers, the Springfield-based pork group's director of public relations.

Other plants are in Beardstown and Monmouth, he said. "Cargill operates a plant in Beardstown that processes 18,000 to 20,000 hogs a day while Farmland operates the Monmouth plant that handles 9,000 to 11,000 hogs each day," he said.

The Meadowbrook Farms plant in Rantoul that closed in 2009 after five years of operation could reopen next year under new ownership, said Maiers. "Trim-Rite has said they could reopen the plant in the spring," he said.

Pekin's attempts to land a Colorado-based hog processing plant that could create up to 2,500 factory-level, union jobs was reported in October but Pekin Mayor Rusty Dunn said recently that no deal was in place yet.

Sources have said that the city is in talks with Swift & Co. to possibly build a plant near Riverway Business Park.

Swift represents a major national player when it comes to pork production, said Mr Maiers. "Swift is No. 3 in pork processing with 47,000-head-a-day capacity," he said.

A Pekin plant would follow a trend, he said. "Illinois is centrally located to several major hog-producing states: Iowa, Indiana and Missouri. There is a trend of hogs moving back to the Midwest to be closer to feedstuffs – mainly corn and soybeans – and lessen transportation costs," said Mr Maiers.

"There are a lot of hogs in the Midwest. Companies look at Illinois strategically because it's in the middle of the Hog Belt," he said.

As for concerns about operations, Mr Maiers said several other pork processing plants in Illinois "are considered assets to their community."

"Pork producers must meet numerous environmental regulations to build and operate a facility. Just as pork production technology and techniques have improved over the years, so have the technologies used in pork processing. Modern state-of-the-art plants have adopted innovative, automated processes to eliminate odors and ensure environmental quality," Mr Maiers added.

The pork industry contributes $1.7 billion and 7,000 jobs to the Illinois economy, he said.

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