City council members in Mason City this week turned down a proposed $240 million pork processing plant after approving it twice on a 6-0 vote.The proposal by North Carolina-based Prestage Farms ended in a 3-3 tie. It needed four “yes” votes to pass.
One of the company's executives, Ron Prestage, says they will continue to seek an Iowa location. He says all four counties surrounding Cerro Gordo (where Mason City is located) have expressed an interest.
Prestage says his company has operated hog finishing facilities in Iowa since 2004, which currently produce about 700,000 hogs a year. He says most are located in North-Central Iowa, which is why Prestage wants to locate a processing facility in that part of the state.
He says if Prestage were to go through the approval process again, it would not have taken for granted that the incentives package created to bring the plant to Mason City would be approved. Prestage says the company should have publicly challenged what he called "misinformation" from the plant's opponents.
Opponents, including members of a grassroots organization called Citizens for Community Improvement, had been speaking out against the project since it was announced in March. The group said it felt the approval process was being "fast-tracked", that it could result in more large-scale facilities in the region, cause environmental pollution, and general loss of quality of life in Mason City.