Meat Matters

Iowa Set To Debut New Generation Of Beef Plants


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The Iowa market has become more competitive, as major and regional packers have vied for its high-quality cattle.

Imagine being able to access carcass data on your smartphone the same day your fed cattle are processed. It seems obvious in this high-tech age. But until now, obtaining carcass data from most packers has been difficult.

That’s soon to change, though, for Iowa cattle feeders who this fall will start delivering cattle to a brand-new beef processor, Iowa Premium Beef’s (IPB), IPB’s Tama, IA, plant is projected to open Oct. 1, news that the state’s cattle feeders have greeted enthusiastically. The plant last operated in 2004, after Iowa producers invested millions of dollars in a failed venture called Iowa Quality Beef. Tyson Foods had earlier owned the plant.

The Iowa market has become more competitive in recent years, as major and regional packers have vied for the high-quality cattle produced in the state. That competition will intensify as IPB will initially process 1,100 head/day, then ramp up to 2,200 head/day.

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This will likely spur more finishing of cattle in Iowa, which had 670,000 head on feed on April 1 in feedlots of 1,000 head and larger. This was 6.3% more cattle than a year earlier. Altogether, these feedlots marketed 952,000 head in 2013.

But Iowa also has thousands of feedlots under 1,000 head of capacity that market a sizable number of cattle. USDA data show that 73,000 small feedlots nationally marketed 3.010 million head in 2013, up 5.5% from 2012. This indicates that a lot more cattle are being fed in small feedlots in the Corn Belt.

The new company hopes to tap into those growing numbers, with a focus on the highest-quality cattle. The IPB plant sits in the best place in the world in terms of high-end cattle, company officials say. They’ve been working for the past year with area cattle feeders, who are excited about supplying the plant. IPB especially wants to work with family farmer-feeders, and the plant will be able to obtain all its cattle from within a 150-mile radius, the officials say.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

John R. Dykers, Jr (not verified)
on May 21, 2014

Would love to talk with these processors about the next generation of processing.

Fritz Groszkruger (not verified)
on May 22, 2014

Who would believe it, asks Steve Kay?

I would. We just sold 19 dependable young cows to a young man with 5 kids. He feeds out his calves here in Iowa. People who own and care for their own animals take better care of them and maybe that produces better meat. That is a symptom of capitalism. The investors in the Tama plant might be on to something.

Anonymous Beef Farmer (not verified)
on Jun 17, 2014

interesting about the "halal" concept. I looked this up and among other restrictions, the name of Allah must be invoked when killing the animal. I'm not entirely comfortable with this.

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Steve Kay offers a unique, big-picture perspective on the North American meat and livestock industry.


Steve Kay

Steve Kay is editor and publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly ( ) subscription newsletter, the number-one marketing and business newsletter for the meat and livestock...

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