By Associated Press - Friday, March 19, 2021

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - Plans have been unveiled for a nearly $300 million beef packing plant that would employ 875 people in western Nebraska.

David Briggs, CEO of both Alliance-based cooperative WESTCO and the packing company, Sustainable Beef LLC, said Thursday that the North Platte plant would process 400,000 head of cattle a year, The North Platte Telegraph reports.

Mayor Brandon cheered the project, urging residents to “focus on the facts” and attend or listen to city meetings as officials consider whether to see the project through.

Briggs and McPherson County rancher Rusty Kemp, another firm co-organizer, said last spring’s pandemic-related supply shortages - on the heels of an August 2019 fire that disabled a major Kansas beef plant - helped spark their project.

“We’re not looking to take on the Big Four packers,” he said. “But there’s a lot of room to operate between a 5,000-head-a-day plant and your local butcher.”

Sustainable Beef’s plant would be one of the few sizable ones built in the U.S. in half a century, Briggs said. About 30% of its production would be sold internationally.

Five former top employees of Cargill Inc.’s beef plants also are among Sustainable Beef’s backers and advisers, Briggs added.

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