Hog farmers buying N.D. slaughter plantHog farmers in the Upper Midwest and Canada’s prairie provinces plan to buy majority interest in a North Dakota slaughter plant, in what one official calls a historic moment for the region’s pork industry.
By: Blake Nicholson The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Hog farmers in the Upper Midwest and Canada’s prairie provinces plan to buy majority interest in a North Dakota slaughter plant, in what one official calls a historic moment for the region’s pork industry.
The Cloverdale Growers’ Alliance Cooperative, a group of about 60 hog farmers in North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota, has supplied the Mandan-based Cloverdale Foods Co. for the past decade. The alliance now has signed a letter of intent to buy a controlling interest in Cloverdale’s Minot plant, said Dunn Center rancher Daryl Dukart.
The co-op is putting together a business plan and soon will begin a push to sign up more farmers in its current area and in South Dakota and Canada, said Dukart, the general manager of the group.
“We’re hoping to have this done in the next 90 days,” he said. “It’s been 10 years of continuous work. This has kind of been a producer dream.”
Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Cloverdale will remain a minority partner in the plant and will continue to handle management. T.J. Russell, the company’s president and CEO, said all 50 full-time workers will keep their jobs.
Russell and Dukart said the new arrangement will guarantee farmers a market and provide them better returns for their hogs while creating a more reliable hog supply and reducing procurement costs for Cloverdale.
The company, which has food processing plants in Mandan and Stanton, makes deli meats and other products, including the official hot dog for sale at Seattle Mariners baseball games in Safeco Field.
Russell said the new arrangement also might lead to sales to some Pacific Rim markets. “They really look to see that there’s a connection all the way to the farmer,” he said. “It’s what our customers are looking for.”
The grower group currently can supply about 60,000 hogs a year to the Minot plant. Russell said that is less than half what the facility slaughters.
The co-op hopes to gain enough members to have the capacity for 150,000 hogs annually, Dukart said.
Russell said he expects most hog farmers who sell to the Minot plant to join the grower group.
“If you raise any livestock, part of your risk is to make sure you have a place to ... have them processed,” he said.
Craig Jarolimek, a managing partner of the North Dakota Sow Center LLP farrowing operation, which ships young pigs to Iowa to be fattened for slaughter, does not expect opposition to the Cloverdale Growers’ Alliance plan to own the Minot plant.
“Anytime the pork industry is growing, expanding and utilizing our natural assets in North Dakota such as our land base, grain and our climate, I think it’s good,” he said.
Jarolimek said non-alliance farmers who want to sell to the plant will have to make a business decision on whether it will benefit them to join the grower group.
The North Dakota Sow Center does not send hogs to the Cloverdale plant. It runs hog businesses near Edmore and Bottineau, and is seeking more shareholders for a farm near Carson. Jarolimek said he would not consider a membership drive by the alliance as competition.
“We kind of run in different circles,” he said.