Western Legacy Development Corp. answers questions about proposed packing plant

Meat Processors 1WALL, S.D. – Western Legacy Development Corporation, the company that has proposed to build a $1.1 billion high-tech meat processing plant in Rapid City, invited the community to come ask questions Thursday at the Wall Community Center.

Livestock industry leaders got the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns to Western Legacy Development Corporation’s planning and development board members. Representatives from the Fall River Feedyard, Belle Fouche and Phillip Livestock Auctions, U.S Beef Producers, a small meat packing facility in Ft. Pierre, as well as area ranchers, asked some of the questions many have been wondering about.

The facility’s ability to procure 8,000 head of cattle to be killed, 252 days of the year – totaling more than two million cattle and costing approximately $60 million a year – was one of the most asked questions.

Megan Kingsbury, Western Legacy Development Corporation President and CEO said that while South Dakota cattle will be given preference, cattle would be procured from a five neighboring state region, focusing on cash trade sales rather than alternative marketing agreements.

“We do understand the gravity of 8,000 head in this market. We know that it’s there. We know that we are able to subsidize if necessary, there are feedlots that we have seen shut down and that can be brought back to life,” she said.

As for the question as to how the Corporation and the new facility would be funded and sustained over the next three years – Kingsbury replied that “yes” she personally had the money to fund the project.

“I’m not asking for anyone’s money. I’m doing this on my own dime. If I fail, I fail, but I will fail trying,” said Kingsbury. “We have the capital and we have the fortune 100 as well as the sovereign wealth fund folks cheering for us. Again, this is privately held. This is my dime. This is my dollar on the line. It’s my reputation at the end of the day.”

Kingsbury said that the corporation has contracted with an unnamed fortune 100 fast-food organization for the plants beef and that the majority of the products leaving the facility would be for large consumers rather than put on grocery store shelves. She said that the corporation was still in negotiations for the plant’s other products.

While everyone in attendance felt that the processing plant was a good for the South Dakota beef industry the question still lingered: How was Western Legacy Development Corporation truly going to compete with the big four pacing companies?

“We can fight them. We know how to fight them. The difference between us and them is that we have the choice as human beings as how to play and we will play ethically, will play fairly well. We will play with integrity,” Kingsbury said. “What makes me think I can do this is I know I can do this. I believe I can do this. This is a challenge. This obviously is not easy, otherwise, somebody else would have done it and somebody else would have succeeded. I’m a very unique blend. I have the capital. I have the fortitude. I have the smarts. I have the backbone. And I have the support of the South Dakotans as well as the global support to get this project done.”

Livestock industry leaders feel the new facility will boost South Dakota agriculture – bringing new opportunities to grow more livestock feed with new seed technologies, developing and expanding feed yards and help increase sustainability for area ranchers.

“We think the opportunity for producers such as yourselves to capture some of that value, to get here, to start feedlots, to retain ownership in feedlots that are closer to your home places are some of those secondary industries that are just going to be absolutely outstanding,” said James Halverson, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director.

“Listening to the producers here tonight, you know, several of them commented about the concern for the sustainability of the industry and of ranching and of production, and that’s vital to everyone who eats. And so anything that can be done to help our ranchers and our farmers and help that market and all of its levels matters. So a lot of good things came out tonight and more to come,” said Pat Jones, Ward 1 Rapid City Councilman. “Within the city council processes are in place right now to make sure nothing comes forward that is not well studied and researched and is going to be in the best interest of the citizens of Rapid City.”

Jones said Western Legacy Corporation will host a future question and answer meeting in Rapid City with a date yet to be announced.

Read more about the proposed packing plant here.

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