Mason City Officials Approve Next Step for Iowa Pork Plant

Mason City, Iowa officials have approved terms of a development agreement to build a pork processing plant.

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Mason City officials have approved terms of a development agreement to build a pork processing plant.

The Globe Gazette reports that many of the nearly 200 people who attended a City Council meeting Tuesday urged the council to not allow Prestage Foods of Iowa to build the facility. Fifty people spoke during the public hearing at the more than five-hour meeting.

Opponents raised issues of cultural clashes with workers coming into the community, potential negative environmental impact, the threat of plant- and hog-farm-related smells, and problems with traffic, housing, crime and drugs.

Many of the opponents speaking wondered if the demand for hogs created by the plant would lead to more confinement operation in the area, and what those facilities might do to the quality of life in the area. Other opponents questioned the morality and humaneness of hog confinement operations as well as the meat industry in general.

Company owner Ron Prestage said that the plant will slaughter about 2.5 million hogs per year.

"You have my word," he said. "We have no interest in doing anything to disrupt Mason City or Clear Lake. This will be the highest tech plant built in the country. It will not be environmentally detrimental to the community."

Supporters said the plant brings the potential for new jobs, population increases and a rising city economy.

"All we hear is that we need jobs — and now we have jobs and we don't want them," said Dorothy Hepperly, a Mason City resident.

City Council members unanimously voted to accept the terms of the development agreement, saying the plant's benefits were too great to ignore and that the potential dangers could be mitigated.

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