News that a new beef processing plant will open north of Calgary is being welcomed by the industry.

Vesta Holdings is buying the former Rancher's Beef plant and plans to spend $18 million upgrading the facility east of Balzac, which has sat unused for several years.

When Harmony Beef opens next June it will process about 700 head of cattle a day.

Alberta beef expert Ted Haney calls that good news for an industry that doesn't have enough processing capacity.

"That will take a dent out of the cattle that we need to export. That will bring us much closer to self-sufficiency,” he said.

Processing more cattle at home will save money and should translate into better overall prices for Canadian cattle, Haney said.

“Rather than exporting those cattle you export beef, not only to the United States but other markets in the world, always seeking premium pricing,” he said.

Canada currently exports somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million head of cattle per year.