News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, December 28, 2006

CORRECTION ON: Don't call them racist just because they hate people of color

Clint Rux e-mailed to update and amend some information he used regarding carpal tunnel syndrome in Native American workers. Here is his explanation:

In my continuing research on the aspect of the beef plant, I find some of my information may not be entirely accurate. I have come across some new information.

As far as carpal tunnel syndrome in Native Americans, it is true that they have a lower incidence of work place
injuries of this nature. However, they do have a higher significance of carpal tunnel injuries as a whole . This is because of the higher prevalence of diabetes. Diabetes leads to carpal tunnel or symptoms like it.

The first information came from a Gaming Association study, and a study of call centers. The new information comes from the Colorado Department of Labor, the Canadian Chiropractic Association, and individual doctor research.

Construction has started on a beef processing plant outside of Aberdeen near the waste water treatment plant. Many people are resisting. A couple of law suits have been filed against the city, the county, and the plant's originators claiming that such a facility will damage the environment, their property values, and create traffic, noise, and stench. But some letters to the editors and comments on discussion boards all boil down to the fact that the protesters do not want "the kind of people" who are likely to seek jobs at the plant in town. The assumption is that they will be Hispanics and people of Asian backgrounds. That assumption is extended to the speculation that they will be illegal aliens. But whoever they are, they will endanger the life style and the security of the community and put a strain on the school system and the government services.

One does not have to have verbal skills to see a subtext behind all these arguments erupting into plain view. The resistance to a beef plant rises from racist attitudes.

A puzzling problem with the resistance is that South Dakota has been striving for years to bring to the state the advantages of value-added agriculture. The reasoning is, why send raw products outside the state for processing when economic advantages could remain in the state?

This is not the first beef plant to be proposed for the region. A few years ago, livestock producers put together a financing group with the intention of building a plant for South Dakota producers. It was withdrawn. Then Ridgefield Farms announced its intention to join a turkey processing plant in Huron. After some local investors withdrew their support, Ridgefield set up a planning operation in Flandreau. It canceled that plan and left Flandreau and some investors holding a big, empty bag. The Aberdeen proposal is going ahead with actual construction begun.

A change in agriculture has made the region a likely prospect. Plant breeding and improved agricultural practices has turned South Dakota into a big producer of feed grains--corn, soybeans, and the like. Whereas ranchers used to sell their calves to out-of-state feeders, they now are finding facilities within the state to finish beef for the choice and prime markets.

But the opponents of a beef plant cite the terrible experiences of other places where such plants have been built. Crime is rampant, they claim. Some towns have experienced serious problems, but they are places where illegal aliens have been permitted to congregate--people who have no documentation to work in the U.S. and no loyalty to the precepts of America. On the other hand, immigrants who have been granted the right to work and live in America have shown an appreciation and enthusiasm for the opportunity and have been proven to be hard and efficient workers.

But the racists keep contriving and fabricating reasons for their opposition.

Clint Rux, an Aberdeen alderman who represents the Southeast District, has provided us with an account of what he has considered in voting for the beef plant to be built near Aberdeen. Here is the information and thoughts he has worked with:

  • Even if all 500 new employees are Hispanic, that will only account to 2% of the population of Aberdeen. Many communities that have the troubles that people are talking about have Hispanic, or minority populations, over 20%.
  • A University of California-Berkely study shows that the farther away you get from the southern border, the less percentage of Hispanics that will work in these types of facilities. In the Northern Plains that accounts to about 30% of any given workforce of a plant of this type. That would mean that on average only about 150 may be Hispanic or Latino. This is because of the large rural population that is used to dealing with animals, and our colder climate.
  • Minority populations that come to a beef plant do the jobs that many white people will not do. In the Huron turkey processing facility, many of the Latinos work in the part of the line that guts and feathers the turkeys. This work is deemed too disgusting and demeaning for us white folks to do.
  • There have been many processing plants that have closed recently in this area. Theses workforces will be drawn to this plant. Many of these people are white.
  • The owners of this plant have repeatedly announced their intention to hire Native American workers. This is for a specific reason. The Native Americans have developed a unique trait that is a product of evolution. Native Americans have less tendency to get carpal tunnel syndrome. This is due to thousands of years cutting up meat. Studies have also shown that Native Americans are more creative and precise in doing cutting projects, and can do this quickly.
  • There will be other jobs associated with this plant that are high tech, and cutting edge that will pay substantially better. They will also hire a lot of Northern students with biology and science degrees, and pay extremely well. Look up IKOR in Aberdeen and see what they are doing.

Here are some things that are positive about this plant.

  • For each job created at this plant, 5-10 more will be created somewhere else in our regional economy. That accounts to 2500-5000 more jobs created not including the original jobs at the plant. These will be in agriculture, healthcare, education, and service industries.
  • This plant will provide health insurance which will reduce the burden on county healthcare systems. It will also pay employees slightly better than the going rate for plants of this size.
  • Farmers who will supply the greatest portion of the beef will save $1000 in transportation fees to take their animals to slaughter. This is per load of cattle. That is more money to each farmer who sells cattle to plants. Farmers will then have more money. And they will put it to good use.
  • This will be the only plant to fullfill the South Dakota Certified Beef program in large scale quantities. This will open many markets that have fears of mad cow disease. Currently this program is only being utilized by small providers. This will be the largest operation to deliver in quantity. Japan is insisting on certified beef. This could potentially open a large market to this country to meet their need.
  • This plant will have to meet or exceed clean air standards. There will be no flexibility on this. It will have to have state of the art treatment, and air quality facilities to achieve this. It will be using equipment like thermal oxidizers, and waste water pre-treatment to eliminate impact on environment. It will also not discharge any blood products. These will be removed from the cow and sold to IKOR. It will have virtually no smell. If you stand outside of the turkey plant in Huron you would not know they are slaughtering thousands of turkeys. Many new processing facilities are being built in the middle of towns.

The biggest obstacle to the full and successful operation of this plant is the racist attitudes of some of Aberdeen's people.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States