Let’s be positive—here are a couple signs that the market may support New Angus/White Oak Global’s gambit to resurrect the bankrupt Northern Beef Packers slaughterhouse.
The USDA reports that, as of August 1, the number of cattle on feed in South Dakota was 210,000, up 20% from last year. (That’s 2.1% of the national beef stock of ten million head. Nebraska has 2.2 million head; Iowa, 630,000.)
The new ethanol plant coming to Onida may boost cattle numbers further. Ringneck Energy and Feed may encourage more wild irrigation of drier middle Dakota ground to corn fields, but it will also crank out distiller’s grain, which could supply expanding feedlots:
The proposal to build Ringneck Energy in Onida, 50 miles away, could be a source for additional feed for those looking to expand or relocate dairies. At a meeting in Aberdeen last week, Walt Wendland, president and chairman of Ringneck Energy amd Feed LLC, said the proposed ethanol plant could provide a quality feed for dairies and beef operations in the area. He said he realizes the importance of having a consistent product for dairy animals, and the distillers grains from the plant could be used to enhance the rations on dairy operations [Connie Sieh Groop, “Cheese Plant Boosts Local Economy,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.08.23].
More cattle on feedlots mean more concentrated pools of manure. But that’s not New Angus/White Oak’s concern. These investors just need 1,500 cattle a day to march across their chopping block and turn their Aberdeen beef plant into a salable property.
If local beef can’t support a restarted NBP, one of my ranch friends suggests that New Angus retool the plant for horse slaughter. Maybe they could lobby Rep. Kristi Noem to push her colleagues to lift the ban on the sale of horsemeat. Last year, the U.S. exported about 147,000 horses for slaughter, mostly in Mexico and Canada. Of course, at a processing rate of 1,500 head a day, that’s only 98 days of production for the Aberdeen plant.