The danger of success

Friday, July 15, 2016

Tyson Foods is getting pressure to drop its obstruction of efforts to market the now abandoned meat processing plant that the company leases from New York resident Mark Langfan.

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley and U.S. Representative Steve King have weighed in on the issue in support of local city and county officials, economic development professionals and the owner of the facility who are critical of Tyson Foods for its position that it will not allow any company that competes with Tyson to buy or take over the lease of the facility. Strangely, Tyson is willing to pay $130,000 annually in rent, along with maintenance costs and taxes on the empty 250,000-square-foot building, rather than have a competitor use the facility. Although Tyson representatives have stated that the competition they are most concerned about is competition for labor, that seems to be the case, so the goal of Tyson must be to suppress wages in Northwest Iowa.

News articles have appeared on the subject, including a recent lengthy article in the Des Moines Register in which many individuals were quoted criticizing Tyson's obstructionist position.

There have been companies showing interest in the property but a commitment cannot be made until and unless there is no barrier to operating the plant.

There is actually a risk that Tyson could switch strategies and put pressure on the owner to make a difficult choice. Tyson could offer to end the lease without further obligation to either Tyson or Langfan. Without a company ready to take over the facility, Langfan might be tempted to reject ending Tyson's lease obligations, which would vindicate Tyson and embarrass the company's critics.

Despite the risk, those pressuring Tyson should keep up the pressure. There is just too much at stake for the the future of the Cherokee area to back off on those efforts.