Frequently Asked Questions
Why build a pork processing plant in Iowa?
Prestage Farms has been raising pigs in Iowa since 2004. We know Iowans understand what agriculture means to the state, and respect Iowa’s status as the nation’s leading hog producer for more than a century. We also share Iowans’ values. We know how important it is to protect the environment, treat people fairly and preserve Iowans’ way of life.
We have 50 Iowa employees; we work with 28 Iowa contract growers and have 145 company-owned hog farms in the state. Our business model in Iowa takes advantage of the existing rich farming heritage in the state by aligning with local, Iowa-based businesses and farm families for services like animal care, feed production, maintenance and transportation.
Why Wright County?
When Prestage Foods contacted the Iowa Economic Development Authority and indicated our interest in building a new state-of-the-art pork processing facility in Iowa, Wright County was one of 19 communities that reached out to us. Wright County is a centrally-located agricultural area with an available workforce well-versed in agriculture. It’s also one of Iowa’s leading counties for hog production.
What is the proposed location?
The proposed location for the plant is at 5 miles South of Eagle Grove on Hwy. 17. It was selected because it is:
- At the center of hog production in Iowa with 6.5 million hogs marketed within a seven county area near the plant; we also have several of our current Iowa operations in the area
- Close in proximity to established agricultural labor markets
- Rural and remote, with no residential neighborhoods nearby
- Near similar agricultural processing businesses
What will the local economic impact be?
Prestage Foods of Iowa, LLC, will create more than 900 new full-time jobs at the Wright County facility, with the lowest paid workers beginning at more than $37,000 per year plus benefits. Average annual wages at the plant are expected to be more than $47,000, plus benefits. The projected annual payroll is more than $43 million with overtime with the tax value of the facility assessed at least $100 million.
The new plant will be the most advanced in the world, equipped with state-of-the-art robotic equipment and ergonomically designed workstations that greatly reduce manual labor and require a more skilled workforce.
What is the employee benefits package?
All 900+ full-time employees will receive full benefits, with an annual total value of more than $12 million. Benefits include:
- Affordable family healthcare
- Short-term disability insurance after one year of employment
- Company-paid life insurance
- Contributions to Health Savings Account
- Paid time off including vacation, holidays, etc.
- 401(k) match – one-to-one match for the first 2 percent of employee contribution
What about the high turnover rate in processing facilities?
While we can’t predict what the turnover rate will be in our new Wright County pork processing facility, our turkey processing plant in St. Pauls, N.C., had a turnover rate of 23 percent in 2015.
We believe our low turnover rate reflects our commitment to running our business based on our family values. We treat people fairly, we do business with good people, and we make sure every business deal we make benefits all parties. Our goal is to be a preferred employer.
Will all the facility’s hog suppliers be Prestage Farms contracted farm families?
No. In fact, about 40 percent of the hogs will be from local independent farmers, who will save money on shipping costs with a new Prestage pork processing facility nearby. This will increase the value of their animals. We look forward to being a new market option for local farmers.
How will the facility affect the hog supply in Iowa?
Iowa is the No. 1 pork-producing state and produces more pigs than it can process. According to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, there is a 7 percent disparity between the number of pigs raised in Iowa and current packing capacity.
The new Prestage Foods facility will enable Iowans to capture all the economic value from processing pigs in state, and the economics of supply and demand should dictate better market prices of live hogs.
Socially, what will the impact be to our community?
Population growth of any kind brings challenges, but we will work with the community to use the two-year construction period to prepare for that growth. We are in talks with Iowa Central Community College about offering our employees training and continuing education opportunities, some of which may be on-site. We are working with the local hospital to offer our employees on-site healthcare.
Will the plant smell?
We cannot guarantee that our plant will never have an odor, but we can guarantee that we will implement the newest innovations to help minimize any odors occurrence. For example, in older facilities, the primary source of odor is from the rendering portion of the operation. In our plant, rendering will be in an enclosed facility and all of the air will be scrubbed before it is released, virtually eliminating odor. In addition, all wastewater will be collected in covered lagoons where methane will be captured and used as a renewable energy resource.
How will the plant impact water quality?
While more expensive, we are choosing to access water from a deep well aquifer rather than the shallow well option as most residents, businesses and towns do in Wright County. We also plan to build and operate our own wastewater pre-treatment plant. These decisions demonstrate our desire to have no negative impact on water quality.
How much tax revenue will Wright County receive as a result of this project?
Local taxing authorities in Wright County can expect can influx of nearly $1.8 million annually for the first 10 years to help pay for schools and improve infrastructure. After the first decade, government taxing entities will receive more than $2 million annually.
Will the plant add to the existing fly problem?
We are concerned about the fly problem in the county as well. We have expressed our interest in being a part of the stakeholder group to address this problem and find a solution.
Why should taxpayers of Wright County invest in a new waste water treatment plant when Prestage is the big benefactor?
This proposed plant allows Eagle Grove to remediate existing problems at its waste water plant without increasing treatment fees to fund it.
Furthermore, it builds capacity for Eagle Grove to grow beyond the proposed plant. It will create capacity for future industry, or hotels, or restaurants that does not currently exist. Prestage Foods of Iowa will provide financial guarantees in the amount of the debt that Eagle Grove would secure. This includes a corporate guarantee, as well as real property that will be pledged against future payments.
Will local businesses be used to construct the Prestage Foods plant?
The two-year project to construct the plant will employ Iowa contractors from many disciplines, including steel workers, plumbers, electricians, fabricators, millwrights, pipe fitters, concrete installers, excavators, landscapers, roofers and countless others. As its architect and general contractor, Prestage is using Epstein Contractors from Chicago because of their extensive experience in building food plants across the globe. Epstein will hire mostly Iowa contractors to build the proposed Prestage plant.
If you have questions about the proposed plant in Wright County, please contact us.