Rapid City Beef Packing Plant Announces Partnership With Farmers Union Industries

by Colter Brown

The proposed $1.1 billion beef packing plant in Rapid City, South Dakota, got some backing this past week when the group heading the project also announced the plant would be linked to a facility that would be operated by Farmers Union Industries.

Kingsbury & Associates plans to build a plant that would process up to 8,000 head of cattle a day. The proposed plant is expected to take about three years to build and would employ about 2,500 people. If successful, it would become the single-largest beef processing plant in the country.

Megan Kingsbury, CEO of Kingsbury & Associates, announced the new name for the project will be Western Legacy Development Corporation.

“‘Western Legacy’ – the name is very personal for me,” said Megan Kingsbury, President of Kingsbury & Associates and Managing Partner of Sirius Realty.  “As a fifth-generation cattle producer from South Dakota this project of building a packing facility and putting competition back into the markets for the producers provides hope that we will be able to sustain ranching and its way of life beyond just the next generation. Western South Dakota is a part of the personal story in the name of ‘Western Legacy’.  This is home for me.  Just because I left the area for a while, this place is where my roots are, and it’s where I’ll live for the next fifty years.  It’s very important to me to give back to this great community.  This project is the best way I know how to accomplish that.”  

She continues, “We are also happy to announce a relationship with Farmers Union Industries to provide on-site byproduct processing.”  Farmers Union Industries will focus specifically on efficient processing of the blood and bone meal byproducts.   

Dale Bednarek, Farmers Union Industries CEO added, “Farmers Union Industries and Farmers Union Enterprises are very happy and want to form this partnership with Western Legacy Development Corporation.  We think this is a great opportunity not only for us but to give back to the family farmers of not only South Dakota but the neighboring states.”

Doug Sombke, president of the South Dakota Farmers Union, said he and others from Farmers Union have met with Kingsbury at least four times now, which led to the joint venture in which Farmers Union Industries agrees to become part of a research and development committee on the project.

“Right now, Farmers Union Industries will be involved. I personally am not sure what my role will be in that, but our CEO will for sure be involved,” Sombke said. ” It’s a damned good opportunity for us to help our producers and our own rendering business.”

In addition, the recent community concerns that have arisen are being addressed.  According to Curtis Harper, Partner of SIrius Realty, “We have a plan in place to capture the methane gas from the facility and repurpose it as energy necessary to operate a facility of this caliber.  There will be no odor.  There will also be no cattle fed onsite.  This is a facility where cattle are shipped in and harvested in as efficient and humane manner possible.  This truly is a next-generation facility unlike anything currently operating anywhere in the world.”  

The Rapid City Industrial Park is the preferred site for the facility. “We’re continuing to work through appropriate processes to ensure that we are good neighbors and responsible citizens both from the standpoint of utilizing green energy technology as well as making certain that we have all of our boxes checked to keep the community happy,” said Kingsbury. “We will recycle a majority of the water used at the facility, and we have been working on efficient transportation methods.”  Cattle will be unloaded directly into the facility off the truck and/or rail cars and will not be penned outside.  

The Western Legacy Development Corporation facility will utilize robotics and artificial intelligence along other tech applications thereby creating a completely automated packing line, which will make the facility safer, more efficient, more humane, and will provide consistent cuts of meat that would not ordinarily be achieved by a human with known margins for error.  “With graduates from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Dakota State University, and others, we have the technological experts to build a high-tech facility never seen before in the United States, right here. We want to attract recent graduates to live and work here in Western South Dakota with great paying jobs.  This will help us continue to create a
great community for all to live in,” said Kingsbury.  

The $1.1B state-of-the-art facility is scheduled to break ground at the beginning of 2023 and will take three years to complete.  The project is currently in the R&D phase and is funded through the privately held companies of Kingsbury & Associates and Sirius Realty and has no plans to go public.  

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