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Farmers Union Partnering with Planned Rapid City Slaughterhouse

Say, just a small meat note. A couple years ago, South Dakota Farmers Union was talking about buying the Demkota Ranch Beef slaughterhouse in Aberdeen. I never heard that that plan bore fruit (or beef tips, as the case may be). But no worries: South Dakota Farmers Union and its regional sister orgs have found a bigger packing partner—the new beef plant going up in Rapid City:

On May 27 it was announced that a $1.1 billion meat packing plant would be opening in Rapid City, and on June 6 Kingsbury and Associates, along with Sirius Realty announced the name of the proposed meat packing plant as well as their partnership with the Farmers Union Industries.

The name of the high-tech meat packing plant will be “Western Legacy Development Corporation”. The meat packing plant is expected to supply 2,500 jobs and if opened today starting pay would be $28 per hour…. The plant will be joined by another facility funded by the Farmers Union Industries.

“We’re excited to bring in our partner Farmers Union Industries where we are partnering together and they will be us on the bi-product facility side, this will flesh out our research and development phase over the next six months and we will break ground beginning of the year,” said Kingsbury, who is part of a five-generation South Dakota ranch. “With a three-year timeline to first-line opening.”

Farmers Union Industries expects to add 40-50 jobs that will specialize in the biproducts of the packing plant [Keith Grant, “Proposed Meat Packing Plant Gets Name, and a New Partnership,” KOTA-TV, 2022.06.08].

2,500 jobs—that’s still smaller than the Smithfield Sioux Falls workforce of about 4,000, but it’s triple the 800 (and growing) at Aberdeen’s Demkota. Farmers Union can get a whole lot of cow entrails from Western Legacy to expand its existing rendering business:

Western Legacy will partner with Farmers Union Industries to provide an on-site rendering facility.

Farmers Union Industries is a subsidiary of the Farmers Union groups in Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The proposed rendering service will be an addition to Central Bi-Products, a Farmers Union Enterprise. Central Bi-Products has three facilities in Minnesota and Iowa processing poultry, ruminant (beef and bison), and porcine bi-products [Codi Vallery-Mills, “Billion-Dollar Meat Plant Will Make Its Home in South Dakota,” The Cattle Business Weekly, 2022.06.08].

Note: Farmers Union calls its rendering company “Central Bi-Products,” but even their website recognizes that the offal they collect is “by-products“.


  1. jim 2022-06-13 16:19

    Rapid City? Why not three within Sioux Falls city limits?

  2. Mark Anderson 2022-06-13 17:31

    No really, why not meditate and put it midstate. Say Highmore so it’s closer to everyone in the state. It’s windy there too to blow the smell away. The Ravnsborg smell might linger but people would work awfully hard. The offal smell wouldn’t bother them. It’s lawful and would add to the Old Settlers day fun. This weekends parade with Obama and Hillary in jail could be expanded, Biden the illegitimate President was a VP also, so lock him away too. Come on Farmers union believe a Highmoron and set it there. Ignore your union name and be a confederacy for oneces.

  3. leslie 2022-06-13 17:42

    I wonder what the city and state paid to subsidize, then clean up after the Rapid City packing plant on the creek in the “gap”, rendering and smelling away the community for decades, much as the community chokes back Adelstein’s and Lein’s mineral and gravel trucking operations? Maybe we can do it yet again, eh?

    Maybe Black Hawk would be more welcoming?

    Fire finally destroyed the rusting beef infrastructure, allowing its owners perhaps to go on from, as they were once: the “Sausage Kings of Rapid City to the Harley Kings of Rapid City” to the “Harley Kings of the Gateway or the Star of the West”, or whatever other names they or the Chamber may fancy!

  4. larry kurtz 2022-06-13 17:52

    Rapid City is nearly out of water now let alone for a billion dollar slaughterhouse so that two billion dollar pipeline from the Missouri River is a bargain, right?

  5. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-13 20:03

    I generally am supportive of the Farmer’s Union and their efforts to use the cooperative to develop new wealth in our agriculture sector….better them than a Chinese owned or a Conagra slaughterhouse as I believe the Farmer’s Union will likely be more responsive to the community and to federal EPA and OSHA regulation. Then I realize “It’s Rapid City” and pause….Nope…anything goes in Rapid, it is still the Wild West. Kurtz’s water concerns are to the point.

  6. John 2022-06-13 20:38

    I’ll be surprised if it’s built. Larry’s likely correct that Rapid City may not have the infrastructure for the colossus.
    The announcement likely killed residential property values and future development speculation south of Rapid City along US 79 to Hermosa.
    Rapid City has a periodic air quality issues with the open pit mine and asphalt plant on the northwest side. Add a packing plant and feedlot on the southeast side and one ends up with an endless olfactory treat.
    Besides, the future of protein is plant-based and cultivated protein. Both are less expensive and yield greater environmental benefits. John Wayne and the Cowboys are riding into the sunset. We’ll still have “beef”. Just as we still have horse and buggies, and Model-Ts, and biplanes.

  7. Donald Pay 2022-06-13 21:49

    I think it’s too big. If I still lived there I wouldn’t be opposed to this sort of plant in/near Rapid, but it has to be scaled down and sited correctly. Make it a third the proposed size and site it better. Also, the water situation is a big concern. The old Black Hills Packing plant was smelly. I lived a mile and a half east. The smell some days was awful. They need to regulate that new plant better than they did BHP.

  8. Donald Pay 2022-06-13 22:01

    Not sure if this outfit bought water rights or are going rely on Rapid City water for this plant. The City bought up a lot of water rights of the old ditch companies and irrigators in Rapid Valley beginning in the late 1980s I believe. Not sure the city purchased all those rights, however, so there might be some water rights still available for transfer. If they have those water rights, they do have at least some water assuming it rains enough. Those rights would be fairly senior rights under SD water law.

  9. jerry 2022-06-14 05:21

    Tourist industry will love that smell man, especially if they are from red states. Nothing like the smell of confinement to open those nostrils. Rapid City needs more immigrants to work in this place to go with the affordable housing and public transportation that already exist here.

    Now, open the old Milwaukee Road rail system to Kadoka and beyond to haul that processed beef and bison. Why go half way when you could make this a real bonanza. Put a spur in the line to service Martin as a railhead for cattle from the Pine Ridge area.

  10. larry kurtz 2022-06-14 07:15

    We had an extensive relationship with Black Hills Pack’s Rushmore Meats until we sold to Sysco in 1990 but we also sold boxed beef from IBP, John Morrell and Excel after we built the space to buy full truckloads. Much to the ire of the Morrell representative I sold a hundred cases of Excel inside rounds to Wall Drug (about two month’s supply for them) in 1989. Mostly because of the odor Rapid City and the packer that bought the facility didn’t get along so it failed and burned.

  11. leslie 2022-06-14 09:16

    Not sure “RC is out of water” is accurate, yet it is emotional. But global warming is certainly capable of either drying us to the bone, or washing us away. Rock dust in the city’s air is a pollutant. Rapid Valley ranchers sold most of the senior water rights in the state to the city. The city has most of the storage rights in Pactola and Deerfield reservoirs. Substantial ground water wells in the Madison aquifer supplement the supply of potable water. A three-legged stool! Denver water engineer Leo Eisel garnered the city many decades of reliable municipal supply.

    A pipe to the Oahe reservoir on the Missouri might recapture annual runoff. Its like the Colorado River’s 1890 Grand Ditch which skims all the runoff from the Never Summer Mountains over to Greeley. Some call it theft!

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