Wyoming company looks to purchase land for beef processing plant
Scottsbluff, Neb. – The Scottsbluff City Council will have a big decision to make over the next few months as they consider whether to sell 43 acres of land that will eventually be the home of a 358,000 square foot beef processing facility.
Wyoming-based company, Future Food Energy, LLC has signed a letter of intent to purchase the land, which is located in the Immigrant Trails Subdivision along Highway 26, east of Scottsbluff near Frank Implement Company.
The company has offered the City of Scottsbluff $10,000 an acre for the parcel, which is consistent with the council’s asking price. However, the members of the council have indicated they won’t make any decisions about whether to sell the land to the company until more research has been completed.
A series of public meetings will also be held in coming weeks to collect input from the community.
A decision on selling the land to the company isn’t expected for at least a couple months. In the meantime, the proposal has been referred to the L.B. 840 committee, who will determine the pros and cons of the proposal, the economic impact to the community and the stability of the company.
The city’s planning commission will review zoning issues associated with the request.
Once built, the facility hopes to process 1,500 head of cattle daily using one shift of workers. An estimated 300,000 to 375,000 cattle will be processed each year with a work force of 250 to 400 workers within the first few years of operation. Eventually, the company hopes to employ up to 550 workers once it is fully operational.
The plant is expected to be about one-third the size of plants in Lexington, Colo. and Fort Morgan, Colo.
Studies have shown similar facilities in other communities have provided $2 billion in economic benefits to the community.
The primary owner of Future Food Energy, LLC is an Asian company, but some beef cattle producers in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming are minority owners.
Company spokesman Keith DeHaan said the company originally looked at locating in Cheyenne, but had to abandon the concept because the community didn’t have the water capacity needed to support the project.
The Scottsbluff site was targeted using a sophisticated plant-siting model, DeHaan said.
“Water availability, ability to treat waste-water and the number of feedlots feeding ranch-direct cattle with superior genetics were the primary driving factors in approaching the community,” he explained.
The proposed plant will be state-of-the-art using reclaimed heat in a process that will eliminate odors commonly associated with meat packing facilities, DeHaan continued.
After outlining his plan to the Scottsbluff City Council earlier this week, DeHaan said he is prepared to answer concerns from the community regarding the facility.
“We will do what we have to do to convince you that this will be a positive thing for you and the city,” he said.
Area rancher, Pete Lapaseotes of Bridgeport, Neb. was also prepared to address concerns regarding the plant.
Lapaseotes was part of a group of area producers who recently toured the Aberdeen, S.D. meat packing facility. He said he found the facility as a nice, clean, indoor facility with no smell, dust or flies.
Lapaseotes said there will be many producers in the area interested in working with the meat processing company because of the opportunities the company can offer.
“We feel that we are producing the healthiest food in the country, and we would like to get paid for it,” he said. “This company offers an owner premium program and competitive prices for beef produced by area ranchers.”