Agri Star announces expansion in beef production - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Agri Star announces expansion in beef production

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -- It was a facility that had gained a reputation for illegal activity by violating child labor laws, abetting identity theft, and hiring illegal immigrants. Now the new owners of the former Agriprocessors plant are working to improve that image.

This morning they announced a major expansion into the kosher beef product line.

In a room full of reporters, Chief Operating Officer of Agri Star, Hershey Friedman, announced a major expansion for the once struggling kosher slaughter house.

"Eight months ago I came to Iowa and started Agri Star meat and poultry. At that time I made a commitment to create a quality workplace where we could improve quality jobs and fair wages while producing quality chicken, turkey, beef, and deli products for the kosher consumers," said Friedman.

State Agricultural officials say the benefits of the expansion will be felt throughout northeast Iowa.

"This is a plant that is great to have operating it's nice to have al the good news pieces here. The plant is operating, the beef line is going to be expanding, hiring more folks, more bids for cattleman across the state as well," said Ag Secretary Bill Northey.

Wages for the employees on the beef line range from $12 to $17 an hour depending on the skill level of the positions. These new jobs mean new residents for the city of Postville.

"With the plant opening all of these people have hope again and our community has been very positive that we will survive and we will get back to where we were and maybe even better," said Postville Mayor Leigh Rekow.

At its peak Agriprocessors was processing about 800 head of cattle a day. Right now Agri Star is only producing 85 head and they hope to move production up to 500 head by next year.

To support the expansion and other improvements, the Iowa Economic Development Board approved $600,000 from the Grow Iowa Values Financial Assistance Program. It was approved to create 168 jobs and retain 140 jobs in Postville.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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