EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of monthly stories dedicated to Farmers Union Industries and its seven businesses.

Estherville, Iowa-based Redwood Farms Meat Processors isn’t your ordinary meat processing facility.

While most processors expect a hog to be a specific size because of how the facility is set up, Redwood Farms prides itself on being versatile for family farmers. Redwood Farms is one of seven businesses owned by Farmers Union Industries, which is partially owned by North Dakota Farmers Union.

“Our hogs can average anywhere between 150 to 350 pounds,” said Dale Bednarek, chief operating officer for Farmers Union Industries. “I call them off-spec animals. They’re not the big packing plant animals that you would sell to a major packer. They don’t meet the packer standards because of their size.”

For animals of an unusual size, it’s not easy finding a home. But for farmers in the area, Redwood Farms is a facility where farmers can receive benefit for these atypical hogs.

“Some of their animals, they don’t know if they’re going to be spec or not,” Bednarek said. “If they find out their animal doesn’t meet (the specifications of a big packer), we offer them an avenue to receive some value out of it after they’ve put value into it.”

There is no major difference in the end product, Bednarek said, only size.

“The finished product is the same – it’s just that the hog’s size didn’t meet the specs of the typical packer,” he said.

One of the latest additions to Redwood Farms is a Cryovac machine, which Bednarek said gives them another avenue of selling product into the retail market. Additionally, a boxing line was installed that allows Redwood Farms to market fresh meat.

“It’s another opportunity to market the meat out in the retail world,” Bednarek said.

Farmers Union Industries purchased Redwood Farms in 2015. Bednarek said recent renovations were needed to get the facility up to Farmers Union Industries’ high standards.

“We’ve added a state of the art fabrication floor,” he said. “At the end of July, we put in a new commons area and locker rooms for employees that were needed, and a new office facility. This is our dedication to keep the tradition of this facility going and to add value back to family farms.”

To learn more, go to redwoodfarmsmp.com. To read more about Farmers Union Industries and its commitment to family farms, visit fuillc.com.

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU