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Agriprocessors sold, to remain kosher

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SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — The Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, was sold to a Canadian company.

SHF Industries, a company formed in May by Canadian plastics manufacturer Hershey Friedman and his son-in-law Daniel Hirsch, bought the failed kosher meatpacking plant for $8.5 million. The sale was approved Monday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Iowa.

Friedman, an observant Jew, indicated in interviews that he plans to continue operating the business as a meatpacking plant focusing on kosher products. He told the Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly that he hopes to have production up and running in time for the High Holidays.

The purchase price was well below the $22 million the plant owes to unsecured creditors, including back wages and benefits to hundreds of employees. It is also much less than the $40 million Soglowek Nahariya Ltd. of Israel was prepared to offer going into a March auction for the bankrupt company. The company rescinded before the auction took place.

According to the Iowa Independent, SHF will advance $1.8 million to the Agriprocessors estate in order to pay debts owed to First Bank Business Capital and MLIC Mortgage. Under the conditions of the sale, the new owners do not have to make good on any other debts owed.

Agriprocessors, formerly the largest kosher meat producer in the United States, has been operating at a fraction of its capacity since a May 2008 raid that trained a national spotlight on the issue of illegal immigration. It also forced the Jewish community to grapple with issues relating to the ethical treatment of workers at Jewish-owned businesses.

Several company officials have faced criminal charges for their roles in employing the illegal workers and other alleged violations. 

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