Meatpacking plant in Idaho Falls nears completion after yearlong construction project - East Idaho News
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Meatpacking plant in Idaho Falls nears completion after yearlong construction project

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IDAHO FALLS – Construction on a new meatpacking plant in Idaho Falls is winding down.

Intermountain Packing General Manager Bob Stirling tells the 65,000-square-foot building is being built on a 9-acre parcel of land at 1096 East Iona Road. It is slated for completion in January, barring any delays due to inclement weather.

“The exact date is still up in the air,” Stirling says. “Right now, we’re just hoping this good weather holds out for a few more weeks. Then we’ll have a better idea when we’ll be opening.”

Headwaters Construction in Rexburg is the general contractor for the $20 million project, which is being funded by multiple investors. Some of those investors are members of the Roger Ball family.

The plant will focus on harvesting beef cattle and bison and will serve farmers and ranchers throughout Idaho and surrounding states. Once it’s up and running, it will be able to process 500 head a day and bring about 200 new jobs to the area.

“We’ll be harvesting a fraction of that (amount) probably for the first few months, so we won’t be able to have that many employees right off the bat” but it will gradually increase over time, Stirling explains.

Wages will start at $15/hour. Those jobs will include medical, dental and vacation benefits.

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Before the project got underway in Sept. 2020, Stirling told us a meatpacking plant has been needed in eastern Idaho for quite some time. The closure of many smaller plants at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic only increased the demand.

“That threw a huge wrench in the industry,” Stirling said last year. “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.”

Bison ranching has been a growing trend in recent years. Stirling said cattle ranching can be a tough market and raising bison is sometimes more profitable because it’s a niche market that attracts higher-paying customers.

Bison meat is leaner than beef and is also high in protein, he explained, and is a good alternative for people who worry about their cholesterol or have underlying health issues.

Stirling said he’s looking forward to a long-term relationship with the city of Idaho Falls and he’s grateful to them for being so easy to work with. He also appreciates Headwaters Construction for making the project happen.

A grand opening and open house will likely coincide with the completion of the project. Additional information will be forthcoming as the date gets closer.