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LimeSprings Beef celebrates groundbreaking

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 09/23/2013 9:32 AM

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LIME SPRINGS, Iowa —Jesse Stevens, president of LimeSprings Beef, compared the journey leading to last week's groundbreaking to that of a seasoned surfer catching a perfect wave buoyed by support from all directions.

The beef processing plant to be constructed in Lime Springs broke ground in front of state and local officials, investors and community members.

"Those who know me know I love to tell stories," Stevens said, adding that the legacy of LimeSprings Beef will undoubtedly become a book. "The book will be about an Iowa farm boy who after a long and rewarding business career was given the opportunity to return home and be part of a project that will turn the plight of a region and possibly the plight of the beef industry (around). It will be a story of the broad range of talented and generous people who brought their time, talent, authority and money to support a transitional startup in a centuries-old industry."

LimeSprings Beef aims to address the priorities of meat buyer who want more humane treatment of animals, support family farms and environmentally sound processing. The firm's tracing software will allow buyers to trace beef products back to the farm where the animal was raised. It will also provide the facility with data on each animal including where it was born, its weight at any given time and any injections or treatment it receives. By possessing this data, LimeSprings Beef will be able to plan and regulate its inventory.

Cattle will be raised within 100 miles of the plant and products will be distributed within 200 miles. This "short haul to slaughter" will minimize transportation stress on animals and lower transportation costs for producing farmers.

The plant, slated to be fully operational by next summer, will create approximately 50.

"This is an example of what this community can do when we work together," Stevens said. "The support of the governor, the state, the mayor, all our investors and the local community has laid a great foundation for this new and innovative facility."

"Iowa is abuzz with economic activity form border to border," said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. "A big reason we are so successful is that Iowa knows who we are. We are an agricultural state and we play to our strengths. LimeSprings Beef is an exact example of that. We're working every day to grow jobs in this state and raise family income. This company shows Iowa ingenuity with the state's raw materials. This will reinvigorate the beef industry with this transformational delivery system."

"I grew up in rural Iowa, I love this state and I'm really proud to be governor when agriculture is strong," Gov. Terry Branstad said. "Despite the challenge we have with the weather, agriculture is an important and resilient part of our economy, and we are seeing great things happen as we add value to what we produce."

Stevens pointed out Crestwood FFA members who helped get legislation passed so their chapter could invest in the project. Members in gray chapter T-shirts took a turn turning over the soil and had their pictures taken with Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

"It's going to be really exciting to see the building going up, see everything happen and see what kind of learning experiences we're going to have in the future," said Kaytlan Langrek, Crestwood FFA president.

"This is pretty exciting," said Dave Eastman, an investor and Riceville cattle producer.

He calves 700 Red and Black Angus cows, finishes his calves and also finishes other cattle. He sells to the naturally fed market.

"I'm 20 minutes from home, and now I'll get to work with people here instead of big conglomerates in Colorado, Omaha or Green Bay," Eastman said. "I get to see the benefits here and get feedback on carcass quality. It's nice to bring jobs and opportunity to this area."

When the plant is operating, Eastman will be hauling cattle 30 minutes as opposed to 14 hours.

"It's a lot better deal for everyone and for the livestock itself," he said.

Jason Passmore, Howard County Business and Tourism executive director, said LimeSprings Beef is a $7 million investment.

"It's a great success for Lime Springs and Howard County but also for northeast Iowa and the state as a whole," Passmore said. "I've never met such a positive thinker and eternal optimist as Jesse Stevens."

The company website provides information on construction progress, employment opportunities and product offerings in the coming months.