Iowa's Meatpacking Industry

Iowa's farming industry contributed to the growth of the meatpacking industry in the state. New technologies also helped fast growth of meatpacking plants.


Many of Iowa’s major industries grew as a result of the state’s great agricultural resources. The meatpacking industry was a result of the many hog and cattle raising farms in the state. In the 1920s and '30s, Waterloo became a major meatpacking city, through efforts of such men as John Rath, who founded the Rath Packing Company. Sioux City was second only to Chicago in meatpacking. Situated in the middle of a three state hog and cattle raising area, Sioux City was convenient to both railroads and Missouri River traffic. When the use of refrigerated railroad cars became commonplace, Iowa’s meatpacking industry grew since slaughtered meat could be shipped to more distant markets without spoiling.

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