Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Ranchers fed up with big meatpackers break ground on their own plant in Nebraska

NORTH PLATTE, NE – Nebraska ranchers have broken ground on a producer-owned beef processing plant that is expected to add more than $1 billion to the economy. North Platte-based Sustainable Beef LLC is expected to process 400,000 head of cattle per year, employ nearly 900 workers and add nearly 900 jobs to the region.

Sustainable Beef is a 500,000 square foot, $325 million beef processing plant spearheaded by a coalition of Nebraska ranchers. The idea for the project was hatched as a result of conversations between Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska cattlemen during a trade mission to Vietnam in September 2019. In recent years, Nebraska’s cattle producers have had limited options for meat processing due to consolidation in the industry. A group of ranchers decided to solve the problem by teaming up to create a producer-owned processing plant–Sustainable Beef–in North Platte.

The State of Nebraska contributed $20 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist with the plant’s construction. On Aug. 31, Sustainable Beef announced a partnership with Walmart, which will provide funds for construction of the plant and help bring beef from the North Platte facility to consumers across the nation once the plant begins operations.

After the Sustainable Beef groundbreaking, Ricketts met with leaders near Hershey at the site of a proposed industrial rail park. In 2021, the Governor signed The Rural Projects Act (LB 40) into law. It authorized funding for the construction of industrial rail parks in rural counties. This year, the Governor signed additional legislation to increase the amount of State funding available to approved rail park projects.

Through the Rural Projects Act, the State has awarded a $30 million grant to the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp.to build an industrial rail park on 300 acres near Hershey. As part of its successful grant application, the Chamber demonstrated a commitment of at least $7.5 million in local funding for the project. In September, the Chamber announced it is seeking a partner to build a soy crush plant at the rail park with capacity to crush over 36 million bushels of soybeans per year.

Following discussions with the rail park’s supporters, Gov. Ricketts thanked local government officials, area business leaders, and Union Pacific for their vision to use the state’s railroad infrastructure to help grow Nebraska.

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