BI Vetmedica to open plant in St. Joseph

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) – A company that handles animal medicines plans to open a massive new warehouse and packaging plant in St. Joseph next week.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. will open its $28.7 million plant next Wednesday. It’s about the size of four football fields, and eventually will have 150 employees.

In 2012, company officials announced that packaging and labeling operations at the Fort Dodge plant would be moved to St. Joseph this year. That move eliminated 45 local jobs.

Rene Ward, a company spokeswoman, said the local plant at 800 Fifth St. N.W., is “a very significant part of our growth strategy.”

She said the Fort Dodge site is the only one that makes pet vaccines. She said it is now producing a vaccine for a condition that afflicts dogs called kennel cough.

The company has invested $35 million in its local facilities in the last few years, and Ward said it plans to invest more in the next two years to expand production capacity.

Boehringer will package, handle and distribute animal vaccines and medicines for shipment to more than 50 countries. The products are used to prevent and treat disease in the swine, cattle, equine and pet markets.

Boehringer’s U.S. headquarters is in St. Joseph. The plant could be expanded by about 100,000 square feet for manufacturing. The company also has operations in Ames and Sioux Center. It is a division of a Germany-based company.