CAVALIER, N.D.-Construction is expected to begin in July on the long-awaited $2.3 million Pembina-Walsh Livestock Processing Plant.

The meat locker, which will be owned by area producers and other investors, should be operational by February or March of 2017, said Julius Wangler, a Grafton livestock producer and board chairman.

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When it reaches full production, the plant will have an annual capacity to slaughter 1,500 head of cattle, 1,000 hogs, 150 bison, 100 elk, as well as sheep.

"Investors are excited about the progress," said Wangler, adding producers now face waiting periods of some five months to have their livestock processed at existing facilities, Langdon Locker, Langdon, N.D., and Aneta Meats, Aneta, N.D.

The Pembina-Walsh meat processing facility initially was proposed more than three years ago.

With 42 investors, Wangler expects the number to increase to 55, including 30 livestock producers from around the region. Investors have committed about $350,000 toward the project. The group still is seeking additional investors.

The remaining part of the financial package is a mix of private and public funding, including $500,000 loans from Citizens State Bank of Lankin and the Bank of North Dakota.

The limited liability company is seeking a USDA Rural Development guarantee of 80 percent of that $1 million. It also is seeking a North Dakota PACE Program loan to write down the 6 percent loan interest to 1 percent.

The group also is requesting: $300,000 from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which is administered through the state; $300,000-plus from the North Dakota Development Fund; and $360,000 from the Fargo-based Legendary Angel Fund.

The group expects to complete its fundraising by the end of June.

"As long as the Bank of North Dakota and Rural Development come through, like we are expecting, we're confident we'll start building this summer," Wangler said.

The plant, with 10 employees when it reaches full capacity, will be built on two acres of land along North Dakota Highway 18 on the south edge of Cavalier, a city of 1,300 located about 80 miles north of Grand Forks.

In addition to custom processing for shareholders, plant-owned meats - such as sausage, ham, bacon, jerky and meat bundles - are expected to be processed for retail sale, Wangler said.

"We've visited with grocery stores and meat markets and they've all been very favorable to selling our products," he said.

The group, which is advertising for a general manager, elected its board of directors earlier this month: Wangler, chair; Alan Seboe, Edinburg, N.D., vice chair; Dr. Jeanette Bjornstad, a Park River, N.D., veterinarian, secretary; Scott Hartje, Cavalier, treasurer; and Rodney Kadlec, Pisek.

For more information, contact Wangler at (701) 360‐1000.