De Smet, SD, cattle producer Todd Wilkinson has been hauling cattle for about a month to the newly opened Northern Beef Packers (NBP) plant in Aberdeen, SD.

“Everything has been very positive for us,” says Wilkinson, who is also first vice president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.

Wilkinson, who helps operate an 8,000-head capacity feedlot and markets about 20,000 head of cattle each year with his brothers and his son, has hauled about 10 loads of cattle to the plant, which suffered its share of setbacks as it struggled to become the first meat processing plant to be built from the ground up in about 30 years.

“From the time our drivers get to the gate, then unload and the whole process up there, things have been going exceptionally smoothly. I expected more of a rocky road on a start-up like this, but we really haven’t seen that.”

The family also hauls cattle to Tyson in Dakota City, NE, and to JBS Swift and Co. in Grand Island, NE.

The shipping costs to Nebraska, of course, are much higher. For now, he also says trucking access to NBP has been better than it is at Tyson.

Wilkinson adds that he did a comparison with his yields, too, between packers and found that it was one-half percent better at NBP.

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