Unhappy with prices, ranchers look to build own meat plants

Agriculture

FILE – In this June 10, 2020 file photo, cattle occupy a feedlot in Columbus, Neb. Frustrated with persistently low prices, ranchers and others in the beef industry are moving to reverse decades of consolidation and planning to open new slaughterhouses. The plants will be smaller than those owned by the four beef company giants that now slaughter over 80% of the nation’s cattle. That has led to some skepticism about whether the new plants will succeed. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Frustrated with persistently low prices, ranchers and others in the beef industry are moving to reverse a long trend of consolidation and planning to open new slaughterhouses.

The new plants typically cost more than $300 million, but they still will be much smaller than those owned by the four meat company giants that slaughter over 80% of the nation’s cattle. That has led to some skepticism about whether the new independent plants can succeed.

David Briggs is the CEO of a proposed plant in western Iowa. He says acknowledges the tough odds but says cattle people are risk takers.

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