Peninsula ponders potential of pork project

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- That other white meat in the grocery store could someday be home grown if a Soldotna entrepreneur's plan to bring hog farming to Alaska is successful.

Richard Metteer says he has been working on the Alaska Pork Project for the better part of a decade and is prepared to move ahead with a formal business plan.

Metteer has asked the Kenai City Council for a formal resolution of support to aid his efforts to raise $396,500 to pay for a formal feasibility study and business plan.

Metteer presented the council with a 48-page preliminary study he and the Dutch company Agriment International have prepared on the project.

Metteer said the project, once operating at full capacity, would produce 660,000 head of hog a year for export and that it could gross $300 million a year and pump $40 million in wages into the economy.

He said Alaska's strategic location on the Pacific Rim could result in fresher pork shipments to the large Japanese and Asian markets.

''Currently Japan is served with frozen product,'' he said. ''But it is very appealing to (Agriment) to serve Japan with deep chilled pork from Alaska.''

Alaska also is attractive for having no endemic swine diseases, something that cannot be said for much of the world.

Metteer said he had been looking at a location north of Valdez or in the Point McKenzie areas, but has recently begun talks with an undisclosed Native group on the peninsula about a 25,000-acre site here. He said all the elements of the operation do not need to be in one place.

''Seward is an ice-free port where we can import 220,000 tons of grain, Kenai could package and process the hogs, and then they can be shipped back to Seward,'' he said.

Packaging and processing could mean as many as 240 jobs, he said.

Metteer said pig manure, rich in nitrogen, is excellent fertilizer, and some of what is produced on the hog farms could be sold to potato and barley farmers. The excess, he said, would be processed in an on-site waste water treatment plant.

After Metteer's presentation, Mayor John Williams directed the city's administration to examine the study and bring a resolution of support for the council to vote on at its next meeting May 16.

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