Guest Column: Truth is missing in beef plant defense

Farm Forum

This guest column was written by Aberdeen City Council member Mark Remily.

Mr. Rory King’s recent guest column with respect to his knowledge, “as a private citizen concerned for the truth,” is absurd beyond definition of the word (“Media distorts EB-5 facts,” Oct. 31 edition of Farm Forum). Mr. King “writes this letter, however, not as Northern Beef’s attorney.” With respect to Northern Beef and EB-5, it is evident that the truth long ago left the argument.

Mr. King refers to a “media feeding frenzy, driven by a definite agenda.” What agenda? Has the truth somehow become an agenda?

“[A] local cattleman — who knew Aberdeen was one of the biggest cattle marketing sites in the country … was convinced that a beef-packing plant in Aberdeen, close to the producers, would be successful.” Well how much did that “local cattleman” lose in this fiasco? Probably about as much as the lawyer for Northern Beef Packers.

Unlike the local family-owned and operated equipment rental business that lost $4,165.27. Or the local dry cleaner with five employees that didn’t receive raises the past year because NBP stuck their small business for $9,443.98. Or, how about the local roofing contractor still waiting for his final $15,636.82 for work performed over a year ago? The list goes on totaling $1,844,228.68. More than 300 plant workers went unpaid. These losses total $104,608.18. Nine states and one territory went without child support payments held out of wages, that total was $5,429.95

“Then came the 2008 banking crisis.” What project developer ever develops, and commences building, any project and then lines up financing for said project? And, a $115 million project at that!

“[B]y a private contractor under an agreement with the state.” Mr. Joop Bollen as a state employee, and unbeknown to his supervisors, signed a contract on behalf of the state of South Dakota with a company known as South Dakota Regional Center. The only important initial detail Mr. Bollen left out of this contract signing was that Mr. Bollen was the owner of the company he was contracting the state to. Very ethical.

“Ninety million was raised and spent in Aberdeen.” It is hard to believe that $90 million in total was spent building this plant. There is no possibility that $90 million was injected into the economy of Aberdeen. Quite the opposite. A $115 million “state of the art” failure was injected into the Aberdeen economy. Just ask the various business and the many former unpaid employees how much money was injected into their economies.

“Aberdeen will have a thriving beef processing facility in the near future.” How many more weeks, months, or years will we hear this? Mr. King, face the facts, the plant pretty much closed before it ever even opened. If the facility ever does re-open it will be nothing more than a “kill plant.” The product produced will be nothing more than tubes of hamburger. Not the promised “South Dakota Certified” fine beef we were all told to expect.

Mr. King is “also very concerned by the media misrepresentation of the missing $500,000.” Attorney General Marty Jackley did not seem to think the missing monies were a misrepresentation. We all now know Jackley had drawn out paperwork to prosecute Mr. Benda for stealing the money just prior to Mr. Benda’s suicide.

It seems that the facts according to attorney Rory King are in a wrestling match with the truth. The NBP $90 million (per Mr. King) investment in Aberdeen is gone, or somewhere in the shadows of wealthy well connected people, apparently never to be seen by the many small business and former employees of this failed venture. I am so sad for these people, Mr. King. By the way, did you get your final paycheck?