After three years of work and an investment of $700,000 by its 200 farmer members, the Meadowbrook Farms Cooperative pork processing facility is open for business.

The state-of-the-art plant sits on 42 acres in Rantoul, IL. It will eventually slaughter and process over 16,000 hogs/week, serving retailers, further processors, foodservice professionals and exporters.

“Our entire focus has been to put together a system that will enable us as producers to take control of our business from feedlot to consumer,” says Meadowbrook Farms chairman and pork producer Roger Walk. “By harnessing the best designs and processes available, we developed a facility that gives us a real marketplace advantage — that we can feel really proud of, and that allows us to make real choices in how we run our farm operations.”

The plant offers highly customized processing and products to serve domestic and international markets.

The plant includes the highest environmental standards and sanitary and humane operating conditions. The plant will use 1/3 less water in sanitizing the meat to be cut and packaged, contributing to meat quality.

The plant has constructed a $1.7 million facility to treat plant discharge.

All rendering products will be transported to offsite facilities specifically designed for that process.

Hogs are delivered to an indoor bay and held in a climate-controlled area before slaughter.

A unique inventory control and monitoring software system drives Meadowbrook's approach to a smaller-scale pork processing plant to yield very consistent, high-quality, portion-controlled cuts.

“We can monitor each individual hog and each cut from that hog from farm of origin to customer delivery,” says James Burke, Meadowbrook Farms (www.farms.coop) president and CEO.