Slaughter plant proposed in northeast N.D.An economic development group wants to open a custom slaughter plant in Pembina or Walsh county. Such a plant would provide a market for locally raised cattle and hogs, as well as deer and other wild game, according to Julius Wangler, executive director of the Red River Regional Council
By: By Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service, The Jamestown Sun
GRAND FORKS — An economic development group wants to open a custom slaughter plant in Pembina or Walsh county.
Such a plant would provide a market for locally raised cattle and hogs, as well as deer and other wild game, according to Julius Wangler, executive director of the Red River Regional Council
A steering committee will meet this month with a consultant who recently completed a feasibility study for a similar plant in Bowdon, N.D.
“There are very few of these plants around,” Wangler said. “Hopefully by fall we’ll have a good idea whether we’ll proceed with this.”
According to preliminary plans, the plant likely would process 10 to 15 animals per week and employ about five people.
“There definitely is a need for more of them throughout the state,” said Jerry Sauter, a spokesman with the state Agriculture Department’s meat and poultry inspection division.
“We lose a couple of them every year,” he said, often when a longtime owner decides to retire or get out of the business. “A lot of times, there’s a need for it, but people don’t really want to take it over.”
Some plants are booked several weeks in advance for beef or pork processing, he said. Then, fall deer hunting season adds to the backlog.
Northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota have seen a drop in the number of slaughter plants in recent years.
North Country Meats in Hallock, Minn., closed in June, and another one in Milton, N.D., closed a few years ago. Walsh County Meats in Vesleyville, N.D., closed about 15 years ago.
The state lists four licensed slaughter plants in Walsh County: Country Smokehouse, Grafton; Forest River Community, Fordville; Jim’s Super Valu, Park River; Market on Main, Edinburg.
Pembina County has none.
Cavalier County has the Hickory Hut, in Langdon, N.D., which is an official state meat processing facility.
According to Wangler, the proposed slaughter house would be different than the grocery store operations and would be larger than Hickory Hut.
The steering committee is considering several issues as it studies the economic feasibility of the proposed plant, including location, whether it would be a wholesale, retail or mixed operation; private or community ownership; and whether grants or low-interest loans might be available.
“There seems to be some interest, so we’re hoping it comes together,” Wangler said.