Billion-Dollar Beef Plant Has S.D. Residents, Ranchers Seeking Details
Update: Late Monday Western Development Corporation announced a meeting for 7 p.m. MST, Thursday, June 30, at the Wall Community Center, Wall, S.D. The event will provide an opportunity for a Q&A forum between the the agricultural community and Western Legacy Development's Advisory Board Members and owners.
Speculation has swirled in cattle country since last month’s announcement of a proposed 8,000 head per day beef processing plant in Rapid City, S.D. Many question the availability of such large numbers of cattle and/or bison in the region, the availability of sufficient labor and housing for the incoming workforce.
Many of those same questions are now being asked by Rapid City residents and officials who want more details about the proposed $1.1 billion project.
“The principals that are involved still have a lot of homework to do,” City Councilman Ritchie Nordstrom told South Dakota Public Radio. “Where do we get those employees? If the number that is being recited is close to being accurate, we don’t know where’re they’re going to come from and where we’re going to house them.”
Those questions were echoed by City Councilman Pat Jones. He represents a ward in the southeast part of the town.
“We have an affordable housing shortage in Rapid City,” Jones said. “The population continues to grow faster than the market can replace housing.”
Megan Kingsbury, whose family ranches near Kadoka, S.D., announced plans for the project called Western Legacy Development Corporation. Kingsbury and Associates, — which is Megan Kingsbury’s consulting business — and Sirius Realty, where Kingsbury is a managing partner are both based in South Carolina. If realized, the plant would become the largest i North America and one of the largest beef plants in the world.
Western Legacy’s proposal would create 2,400 jobs and Kingsbury said the plant would utilize the latest technology available.
In an interview with SDPB's Lori Walsh on "In the Moment," Kingsbury said her company is "holding this project privately and funding it in-house."
City councilman Nordstrom questioned if the industrial park could fit the 1-million-square-foot facility into the park or build the infrastructure needed for the plant without extra financing from the city.
“I would like to see a meat processing plant, but right now the conditions for the current proposed location don't fit the parameters,” Nordstrom said.
Transportation, water use and odor are also concerns. Jones has heard from constituents who worry about heavy rail and truck traffic near their neighborhoods. He’s also worried about the potential for unpleasant smells like those caused by the Federal Beef plant, which closed after a 2002 fire at its central Rapid City location.
Kingsbury, however, says the proposed plant's environmental impact would be limited: cattle would not be held outside, water would be recycled on-site and the plant would emit no odor thanks to methane-capture technology. She said the technology will reduce the plant’s environmental impact and allow it to run at a larger scale, with fewer workers in better conditions.
Kingsbury said she hopes construction will begin in 2023 with a targeted completion date of 2026.
$1.1 Billion Next-Generation Beef Plant Proposed for Rapid City, SD