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Smithfield Beef Group

, a subsidiary of

Smithfield Foods


, and

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ContiGroup Companies

, an integrated poultry and pork producer, said Wednesday that they entered into an agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture to build a new, state-of-the-art beef processing plant in Texas County, Okla., that will create 2,500 to 3,000 jobs.

Construction of the 650,000- square-foot plant, which will be the first of its size in more than 20 years in the United States, is expected to begin in January 2007, with completion scheduled for mid-2008, the Green Bay, Wis.-based company said.

The project, which is estimated to cost about $200 million, is expected to process 5,000 head a day at full capacity.

"We reviewed more than 30 potential locations in five states, met with local economic development and agricultural leaders, and visited a short list of ten potential sites before deciding that Texas County is ideally suited for our new facility," the company said.

This story was created through a joint venture between and IRIS.