Tama approves tax breaks for idled beef processing plant

Iowa Premium Beef plans to employ as many as 550 and ramp up to 950 employees over three years

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Investors planning to reopen a beef processing plant in Tama will be able to take advantage of development agreement with the city that will rebate up to $3.6 million over the next decade.

The Tama City Council on Monday approved the tax incentives for Iowa Premium Beef, which hopes to initially employ as many as 550 and ramp up to 950 employees over three years.

The rebate involves property taxes on 23 acres of the plant site on the east side of Tama.

The investors have not been identified.

Under the agreement, 100 percent of the property taxes on improvements will be refunded to Iowa Premium Beef for the first five years. A sliding scale starting at 90 percent will determine the amount of the rebate over the remaining five years, reduced by 10 percent each year.

The former Iowa Quality Beef plant has been idle since the 900-member Iowa Quality Beef Supply Cooperative shut it down in 2004. The cooperative opened the remodeled plant in July 2003, hoping to rejuvenate Iowa's cattle industry by selling high quality beef at a premium price.

Cooperative members invested $12 million in the project and obtained loans and grants to cover the rest of the $32 million cost. The plant closed a little more than a year after it opened and its 540 employees were furloughed.

Poor market conditions and international fear over mad cow disease were blamed by Iowa Quality Beef Supply Cooperative for the closure.

Built in 1971, the facility was originally called Tama Meat Packing or Tama Pack. It has operated under several owners since, none achieving long-term success, including Tyson Fresh Meats.

Iowa Premium Beef will be a custom processor and not compete with major packers. The facility will slaughter cattle for producers who sell their own branded beef.

Iowa Premium Beef also intends to buy cattle and market its own beef.

Matthew Wilde of the Waterloo Courier contributed to this story.

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