Our Voice: Northern Beef has opportunity to attract workers from Texas

Farm Forum

While the residents of Plainview, Texas, struggle with the closure on Friday of its Cargill beef processing plant, Aberdeen’s Northern Beef Packers has a golden opportunity.

Northern Beef is on the hunt for 150 more workers, which would bring its numbers to 550.

The Cargill plant employs 2,000.

It’s a critical time for Northern Beef. With funding and permitting behind them, plant operators now work on making key hires, as well as getting their work force up to full capacity.

That’s not an easy feat. Northern Beef is a rare facility, a state-of-the-art, independent beef processing plant. There just aren’t that many experienced workers out there to do the kind of tough, precise work the plant needs.

The Cargill workers are, in fact, luckier than some. While 150 jobs is just a fraction of the thousands lost there, some of those workers might get a chance to put their experience to good use in a modern start-up.

We’ve seen some grumbling online that Northern Beef shouldn’t be actively recruiting the Texas workers and instead focus on hiring out-of-work Aberdonians. But no one’s address gives him a guarantee, and Northern Beef officials would be wrong to ignore the opportunity the Cargill closure brings.

“One thousand jobs” isn’t just a marketing campaign, but a fact, according to the Department of Labor’s Aberdeen office. There are more than enough slots for South Dakotans who want to work.