During the summer of 2019, the beef industry experienced significant disruption when the beef plant in Holcomb, Kansas had a major fire. Then, during the spring of 2020, the beef industry again experienced significant disruption due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These events have shown a bright light on the need for more capacity in the beef packing industry.
A group of cattlemen and investors, with deep Nebraska ties, have formed Sustainable Beef, LLC and seek to build a small regional plant in North Platte, Nebraska, to help the industry increase the beef supply pipelines that feed our nation and the world.
North Platte is centrally located in the lower 48 states as well as in the middle of the Sandhills, where some of the best calves in the nation are born and raised. Situated within one mile of I-80 and next to the city’s waste water treatment plant, makes this location ideal for processing and transportation.
A local rancher, Rusty Kemp, traveled with Governor Ricketts to Japan and Vietnam in the fall of 2019 and returned with the belief that Nebraska beef is highly regarded across the world, and we needed more capacity to insure our cattlemen had a place to process their livestock. The COVID-19 Pandemic confirmed his belief and started the discussions on how to achieve this goal.
The City of North Platte understands the importance of the cattle industry to the region and the economic benefits a new industry will have on the city. “From a strategic standpoint the project focuses on enhancing the area’s cattle industry, growing the area’s workforce and provides an opportunity to thrive in today’s global economy. These combined will undoubtedly contribute to the current and future successes of North Platte,” said Matthew Kibbon, City Administrator.
“Disruptions caused by fires, floods, and the current pandemic have reinforced the need for greater capacity to process Nebraska beef,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “In response, a coalition of Nebraskans has established Sustainable Beef, a small plant in North Platte, to serve local ag producers. Our ranchers and feeders raise the best cattle anywhere in the world. Sustainable Beef will provide them with an excellent, local option to process livestock so that Nebraska beef can help feed even more people around the world. I applaud the initiative of Nebraska’s ag community to build this new beef plant,” said Governor Ricketts.
The proposed plant will exceed 300,000 square feet and cost more than $200 million to construct. Tax increment financing will be a necessary component for the required capital stack to make this project a reality. Sustainable Beef, LLC is working through the municipal process and hopes to break ground this fall and begin plant operations in early 2023. “Sustainable Beef is looking forward to working with the City of North Platte in building a new beef plant that will add value to the cattle industry and provide economic benefits to the region,” said Rusty Kemp.
“When you look at the North Platte area agriculture economy and the profound positive financial impact this will have, through major investment and job creation, it will truly help diversify our economy and build upon our natural economic strengths” said Gary Person, President &CEO of North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corporation.
Sustainable Beef has engaged Ernie Goss, one of the most respected Economists in the Midwest, to complete an Economic Impact Study that will demonstrate the substantial benefit this project will bring to Lincoln County. They have also engaged a team of beef processing plant professionals, Live Better Beef LLC, to assist in the long process from project concept to project completion. The new plant is budgeted to have a $50 million payroll and estimated annual economic impact on Lincoln County of $1 billion.
“We have seen tremendous support from the cattle industry and the city of North Platte in bringing the idea of more capacity to the beef industry. The team we have put together to help us build this new plant is top notch and committed to Nebraska Beef and our tag line; Right People – Right Place – Right Time” said CEO David Briggs.