Proposed high-tech beef processing facility announces new name, partnership with Farmers Union Industries and addresses community concerns

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Kingsbury & Associates and Sirius Realty of Rapid City, S.D. and Greenville, S.C., announced Monday that the 8,000 head a day, one million square foot beef and bison processing facility proposed to be located in the Rapid City Industrial Park, will be named the Western Legacy Development Corporation. They also announced that they have partnered with Farmers Union Industries which will provide an on-site rendering facility.

“Western legacy. The name is very personal for me. As a fifth-generation cattle producer, from the Kadoka, Wall, Interior area of South Dakota, this project of building a meat packing facility and putting competition back into the markets for the producer’s guarantees that we will be able to move beyond just the next generation and be able to enjoy our way of life as well as sustain the industry – long term,” said Megan Kingsbury, President of Kingsbury and Associates and managing partner of Sirius Realty. “Rapid City, this is part of the personal story in the name of Western legacy….This is home for me. And just because I left and went to the East Coast for a while, this is where my roots are. And it’s important to me to give back to this community. This is the best way I know how.”

Kingsbury also made it publicly known that Farmers Union Industries will provide an on-site rendering service within the facility.

“Farmers Union Industries and Farmers Union Enterprises are very happy and want to form this partnership with Western Legacy Development Corp. We think this is a great opportunity not only for us but to give back to the family farmers of not only South Dakota but the neighboring states,” said Dale Bednarek, Farmers Union Industries Chief Executive Officer.

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. Bi-product facilities take all the items that would typically be thrown away in meat processing and turn them into useable products.  Beef bi-products are used to make medicines, including insulin, sporting goods, plastics, building materials, makeup, plant, pet and human foods, including jello, gum and gummy bears and much more.

“We’ve been in business since 1929, so we’re very familiar with the bi-products that will be prepared out of this facility. We’re looking at a meat and bone meal that hopefully we can utilize not only domestically but also export. We’re also looking at making tallow and yellow grease products that not only can go into the feed ingredient business but also into the industrial and maybe the biodiesel industries,” said Bednarek.

The $1.1 billion, state-of-the-art facility is scheduled to break ground the beginning of 2023 and will take three years to complete. It will take three months after opening to open successive lines and reach full capacity. The project is funded entirely through the privately held companies of Kingsbury and Associates and Sirius Realty and has no plans to go public. The Rapid City Industrial Park is the preferred site for the facility, but other locations are also being considered.

“This is one of our sites and we’re continuing to work through appropriate authorities and appropriate processes to make sure that we are good neighbors and responsible citizens, both from using green technology and making sure that we have all of our boxes checked to keep the community happy,” said Kingsbury.

She said that with new technology the facility will not pose many of the problems or environmental concerns that other packing plants have.

“We’re excited to introduce complete methane gas recapture technology. This will be the first of its kind in North America, and the facility will be powered off of the energy captured through the methane gas recapture. So there will be no odor,” said Kingsbury. “We will recycle a majority of the water used daily, and we have been working on efficient transportation plans as well.”

Adding that cattle will be unloaded directly into the facility off the truck or rail cars and won’t be penned outside eliminating the possibility of a loose cow.

“Just on the packing facility side, we are at 2500 jobs. And those if we were to open today, our entry level job would start at $28 an hour. We’re taking the sweatshop mentality out of the packing facility and out of the byproduct facility as well, and creating a tech driven clean space that everyone should be proud to work at,” said Kingsbury. “Basic qualification would be a tech person. So not necessarily a tech degree, but someone that enjoys technology and is capable of pressing two to three buttons over an eight, ten, 12 hour shift over and over again. Something that would be comparable would be a state of the art auto manufacturing facility where you’re working on a C and C module and you’re doing a repetitive action in a very clean environment for a period of time.”

“The applicants for our positions will be ideally those that are neighbors in our community here in South Dakota. With Governor Noem’s initiative, of funding the tech school significantly, with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and a number of other schools with their degree programs, we’re seeing talent leave the state rather than be employed when they have those tech and engineering degrees. Those are the individuals that we will be targeting to employ,” she said.

The Farmers Union Industries rendering facility will add an additional 40-50 jobs in addition to the 2,500 projected jobs offered by the processing facility.

Rapid City has seen an increasing affordable housing shortage. A 2018, study by the Black Hills Knowledge Network revealed a massive shortage of housing units (nearly 3,500) for residents whose average median household income is less than $35,000 per year.

“It’s a little bit premature to start building houses at this point for that.  That is something, though, that we have the capability both in-house and by partnering with our development partners and associates, both within Rapid City and the surrounding communities, that we’ll be able to get ahead of and effectively manage what that need will be. We do know that people are wanting to come to Rapid City. It’s a great place to live. It’s a great place to work. So I’m sure that we’ll see an increase in workforce housing being built,” said Kingsbury.

The Western Legacy Development Corporation facility will process cattle and bison completely with the use of robotics and artificial intelligence making processing easier, safer and more efficient and producing consistent cuts of meat. They will use laser technology and air knives which use a high velocity air stream to dehide animals. A technology currently only used in Europe, Asia and Australia due to the high cost of retro fitting current facilities.

“With graduates from the South Dakota School of Mines, Dakota State University, and others, we have the technological experts to build a high-tech facility never seen before in the United States, right here. We want to attract these young people to live and work here in Rapid City with great paying jobs and by helping build a great community to live in,” said Kingsbury.

The proposed processing plant is sensational news to area farmers, ranchers and cattle producers, offering incentives for feedlot growth in a seven state radius of Rapid City.

“The American rancher is less than a generation away from being extinct if we don’t do something fast,” said Kingsbury. “We’ve already seen the high cost of meat in stores and the low prices producers are receiving for their animals. There is profit in this industry up and down the supply chain if we restore competition. When that happens everyone who produces and consumes high-quality beef wins.”

“We plan to compete by reopening the industry to competition, by being that second bidder in the cash markets. The goal is to do what we need to do in order to be competitive and break up that monopoly (big four meat packing plants) and put the dollars back into circulation in the industry and get those producers help again,” she said.

” We will build a brand that is America first focusing on procuring American cattle and feeding American citizens affordable, high-quality protein as our first priority. Our grocery store shelves should never be empty of meat again,” said Kingsbury.




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