HURON — Hearing concerns from the gathered crowd about a beef processing plant opening within Huron city limits, Don Thul, the prospective plant’s manager with High Plains Premium Beef, made it clear that the company intends to be a positive impact on the community.
“We’ve got one shot at doing this and doing this right,” Thul explained. “Our plan is to use Huron and this plant to be our flagship plant and then replicate it elsewhere, so it is of the utmost importance that we do this plant right for everyone around us so we can go into communities that may have concerns and have them talk with Huron people to find out that we can meet all those concerns.”
Identifying themselves as “just a group of farmers from the Midwest,” High Plains Premium Beef explained that their intention is to use the existing building that Greater Huron Development Corporation has available at 191 Union Ave. NW in Huron to build a beef processing facility that could process 150 head of cattle each day.
The building is zoned industrial, which does have the ability to have meat processing facilities fall within that designation, though the facility will be required to go before the city planning commission and the city commission to be approved for a conditional use variance in order to process beef. Members of the board expressed hope that in the first quarter of 2024, High Plains would be able to go before the planning board and the commission for that variance.
Many of the questions regarding the facility were regarding smell and disposal of waste water through the city’s water and sewer system. Clinton Powell of Brookings spoke to many of those concerns, explaining that at an engineering level, failure of one day per year is an unacceptable level of failure, and that High Plains would be working to ensure the facility did not overly tax the city’s water and sewer system.
Powell also noted that the size of the facility will allow High Plains to contract with larger companies like Sysco to distribute to restaurants while also serving individual farmers and restaurants locally. The facility will also do all work indoors, including having hauling trucks of both the finished product and the rendering - or the non-meat parts of the cow - being loaded indoors.
Thul discussed the plant he currently manages in Iowa that this plant is going to be based on. He noted that plant is located in downtown of the small town where it is located, and the facility receives high marks from community members for its cleanliness.
The reason behind choosing the building on Union Ave. is that the facility meets a number of the size requirements for the plant that High Plains has in mind. Powell estimated that moving to the Vantage Business Park on the East side of Huron, while closer to the wastewater treatment facility, would cost at least an additional 10% for the project to get going due to the lack of present building as well as other factors.
Public meetings will be held surrounding the initial city planning commission meeting regarding the facility. Further information can be found on eastdakotabeef.com.
PHOTO BY BENJAMIN CHASE/PLAINSMAN High Plains Premium Beef board member Clinton Powell of Brookings discusses the potential beef processing plant in Huron during Wednesday’s public information session.