Hooker, OK, located in the Oklahoma Panhandle at the juncture of Highways 54 and 64, is the site of a $200-million beef processing plant Smithfield Foods plans to break ground on in January. The announcement on the 50/50 joint venture was made this week by Smithfield Beef Group Inc., and ContiGroup Companies.

Construction of the 650,000-sq.-ft. plant, the first of its size in more than 20 years in the U.S., is scheduled for completion in mid-2008, and will have a processing capability of more than 5,000 head/day. Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding LLC, the world's largest cattle-feeding enterprise, another 50/50 joint venture between ContiGroup Companies and Smithfield Foods, Inc., will supply most of the cattle for the packing venture. Five Rivers consists of 10 feedyards in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas with a one-time capacity of 811,000 head.

According to Meatingplace.com, Smithfield Beef Group CEO Richard Vesta said the company explored 30 locations before settling on Texas County. The proximity of the Five Rivers operations was cited as one reason for the decision, which would save transportation costs and provide traceability advantages.
-- Joe Roybal