Intermountain Packing has announced plans to build a new packing facility in Idaho Falls, ID. The $20 million facility will occupy nine acres and is scheduled to be in operation in the fall of 2021.
Construction on the 50,000-square-foot facility will begin this fall, General Manager Bob Stirling told EastIdahoNews.com. The plant will have capacity to process 500 head of cattle and bison per day and will employ 200 workers. Stirling said starting wages will be $15 per hour with medical and dental benefits.
Intermountain Packing is an offshoot of Intermountain Bison, an Idaho Falls company founded in 1969 by Roger Ball. Intermountain Bison is a vertically integrated bison operation with ranches in Idaho and South Dakota. The company raises and processes bison meat and jerky.
Stirling said there has been a need for additional meatpacking capacity in eastern Idaho for several years even before the coronavirus pandemic forced several smaller plants to close.
“That threw a huge wrench in the industry,” Stirling told EasternIdahoNews.com. “Many ranchers and feedlot operators didn’t have anywhere to go with their cattle. Live cattle were sitting in feed yards on ranches and then (there were) empty shelves in the grocery store.”
Stirling said bison ranching is attractive to some ranchers because it’s a niche market that attracts higher-paying customers and can be more profitable for ranchers.
The Intermountain Packing announcement is the second packing facility announcement in Idaho this summer. In late July Agri Beef, Boise, ID, announced it plans to open a packing plant in Jerome, ID, that will process 500 head of cattle per day. Jerome is located about 165 miles west of Idaho Falls.
The Jerome plant will operate as True West Beef and employ 400 workers. Agri Beef already operates Washington Beef located in Toppenish, WA, which has a daily harvest capacity of 1,550 head. The company said average workers would make $52,000 per year.