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Buyer to save Pipestone meat processing plant

PIPESTONE — A meat processing plant that was about to be closed down will be bought by another food company instead.

On Tuesday, beef and pork processor JBS USA announced it reached an agreement to lease the J&B Group meat processing facility in Pipestone, with the intent to buy the facility in upcoming months. The move will protect more than 130 jobs at the plant, a JBS USA press release said.

JBS USA owns two other meat plants in Minnesota, including the pork production plant in Worthington.

“We are excited to welcome the Pipestone team members to JBS USA,” said Bob Krebs, COO of JBS USA Pork. “We have worked with the J&B team under the common goals of preserving jobs and creating a sustainable future for the facility. We believe the facility’s infrastructure and accomplished workforce present a great opportunity to expand our ability to provide high-quality products to both domestic and export markets. We plan on investing in the facility and growing the business, allowing our new team members and the local community to grow with us.”

The Pipestone plant produced fresh and frozen ground beef and steaks. J&B Group announced in September that it was putting the plant up for sale, and consolidating its operations to the company headquarters in St. Michael. The facility was planned to be shut down within two weeks of Nov. 22.

Tuesday’s news release said JBS USA intends to buy the Pipestone facility for an undisclosed amount. Before JBS USA’s plan, J&B hadn’t identified a buyer for the plant, the release said.

According to the JBS USA company website, JBS USA already has two plants in Minnesota, including a chicken production facility in Cold Spring and a pork production facility in Worthington. The Worthington plant employs more than 2,000 people, and produces Swift brand pork.

JBS is an international meat company that was founded in Brazil in the 1950s. In the 2000s, the company started expanding into beef and other meat processing markets in countries around the world. JBS acquired Swift & Company in the U.S. in 2007.

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