Governor optimistic about proposed Tama packing plant

TAMA – Gov. Terry Branstad said he recognizes the lack of progress on the proposed Iowa Premium Beef packing plant in Tama, but he has reasons to be optimistic.

“Hopefully, we are going to see something happen here in the next few months,” Branstad said.

Branstad spoke at a town hall meeting with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, Tuesday at King Tower Cafe in Tama.

Branstad said the plant, which is proposed at the site of the former Tama Pack facility, would add more jobs in the area. He said he couldn’t disclose more on the project due to confidentiality issues.

“I’m pretty hopeful, and I know they’ve got some good prospects,” Branstad said.

Branstad was asked why Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley still has his job despite all the people speaking out against his management tactics. Branstad admitted Worley has rubbed people the wrong way.

“He might not be the most diplomatic individual,” Branstad said.

Branstad said his appointment of retired Brig. Gen. Jodi Tymeson as chief operating officer appears to be helping Worley run IVH.

“I’ve heard good things since she got there,” he said.

Reynolds said they are making great strides in improving education in the state as a result of this past legislative session. She said educational growth has to be tied in with economic growth so the jobs are there for Iowa’s students.

“We want to make sure that we are not only educating them properly, but we’re keeping them in the state of Iowa,” Reynolds said.

Branstad was asked about increasing food costs, and he said it’s tied in with the fuel costs. He said there is misinformation out there that rising food costs have to do with the ethanol industry.

“A lot of the cost is in transportation,” Branstad said.

Iowa’s crumbling rural roads were also a topic addressed. Branstad said there needs to be some type of road user fee in place, not necessarily a gas tax, to fund road projects.

Both Branstad and Reynolds said Iowa is in a good place economically. They cited the billions of dollars of private capital investment in the state in the past two years, the surplus in the Iowa budget and the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country (4.6 percent).

“Iowa is on a roll economically,” Branstad said.