Economic Tidbits

Growth in Agricultural Manufacturing

Another interesting finding of the UNL study was that agriculture-related manufacturing in Nebraska contributes more to the state’s gross domestic product than the crop and livestock sectors combined, $11.2 billion vs. $10.0 billion, respectively. This means that while the economic impact of the production sector will vary due to volatility in farm income, the impacts of agriculture-related manufacturing are more stable and contribute to the state’s economic stability. Agriculture-related manufacturing helps Nebraska weather financial downturns in production agriculture.

Recently completed or ongoing expansions, remodeling, or new construction projects in Nebraska’s agriculture-related manufacturing suggest the sector is growing even larger. The Scoular Company announced it will be opening a freeze-dried pet food ingredient production plant in Seward. The 105,000-square-foot facility will employ 50 people when it opens, and with growth, will expand to 100 employees. The Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry complex in Fremont includes a processing facility, hatchery, and feed mill, along with grower barns that represents a collective investment of $800 million. WholeStone Farms, a hog processing facility also located in Fremont, announced earlier this year a $200 million expansion project which will include a new, state-of-art processing floor.

Other examples abound: Merck Animal Health in 2019 opened a major expansion of its West Omaha operations center; Hendrix-ISA opened a chick hatchery in Grand Island; and, on the Cargill campus in Blair, Evonik invested $200 million in a project to produce omega-3 fatty acid oil and Novozymes invested in a $36 million expansion. These multimillion-dollar investments in agriculture-related manufacturing are built on the sturdy base of production agriculture. Without production agriculture, the investments wouldn’t happen. However, it’s a symbiotic relationship. The investments also provide greater opportunities for production agriculture. And, as the UNL study shows, the overall Nebraska economy benefits.

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