SIOUX CITY | In less than three months, Seaboard Triumph Foods has hit its target of hiring 1,100 employees for the first shift at the new Sioux City pork plant, a top company official said Tuesday.

In addition, a second shift, set to start next year, is now expected to add 950 workers, up 50 from earlier previous estimates, Chief Operating Officer Mark Porter said. The second shift will push total employment well past 2,000.

After two years of construction in the city's Bridgeport West Business Park, the 925,000-square-foot plant slaughtered its first hogs just after Labor Day weekend with several hundred workers. The workforce now includes about 900 hourly workers and around 200 in the office.

With a capacity to process about 10,500 hogs daily with a single shift, it ranks as the second-largest fresh pork plant in the world and the newest factory of its kind in the United States.

The Seaboard Triumph Foods complex, a joint partnership between Guymon, Oklahoma-based Seaboard Foods and St. Joseph, Missouri-based Triumph Foods, was built on a 251-acre site. The current structures cover 22 acres, and a large addition is under construction to accommodate a second shift. Completion is anticipated for late spring or early summer next year.

Once a second shift ramps up, Seaboard Triumph will become the largest Sioux City employer and the third largest in Siouxland, behind only Tyson Fresh Meats in Dakota City and Wells Enterprises Inc. in Le Mars.

Porter also on Tuesday laid out likely scenarios for the plant to expand in the future.

“We won’t expand in fresh pork,” he said. “Most likely, it would be case-ready or smoked meat or fully-cooked meat. We would most likely attach on to the north side or to the northwest.”

Porter updates came during a conversation with U.S. Rep Tom Emmer before the Minnesota Republican toured the plant Tuesday morning.

Tom Emmer

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, talks to Seaboard Triumph Foods Chief Operating Officer Mark Porter prior to touring the new $300 million facility. Emmer said he considers himself a strong advocate for agriculture and its related industries, which prompted his visit to Siouxland.

Emmer visited multiple locations in Siouxland Tuesday but made a special point to see the pork plant because one of Triumph Foods' affiliated companies is Christensen Farms, a large Minnesota-based pork producer.

“I’m just very happy I’ve been given the opportunity to visit this great facility,” Emmer said.

The congressman said Tuesday's tours will help him relay the importance of agriculture and its role in the economy to his constituents.

"Most people — especially in the city — they think their food comes from the grocery store," he said. "It's our job to keep it real and make sure we understand where it's actually coming from."

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