The Agricultural Advantage Makes Phelps County Ideal for Poultry Industry

24 Jan 2018

With ag-friendly communities, an abundance of feed and water and experienced livestock producers, Nebraska and Phelps County make an ideal location for expanding or relocating businesses in the poultry industry.

That’s the message that a delegation from Nebraska hopes to share in Atlanta, Ga., at the International Production and Processing Expo, the world's largest annual exposition for poultry, feed and meat technology.

Phelps County Development Corporation Executive Director Ron Tillery will travel to the expo in late January as part of a team that includes representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Public Power District, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) and the cities of York and Scottsbluff.

This delegation hopes to build on the recent Nebraska projects in the poultry industry including the Hendrix Genetics hatcheries in Beatrice and Grand Island and the partnership between Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry, which involves recruiting farmers in northeast Nebraska to raise chickens solely for use at Costco stores.

Costco is investing $300+ million into its Nebraska project, and once completed it is expected to generate an overall economic impact of $1.2 billion annually and create approximately 800 new jobs.

These types of projects create new opportunities for Nebraska communities and ag producers.

“Vertically-integrated ag production delivers higher quality food to the table,” Tillery said. “Nebraska, and particularly Phelps County, are perfectly situated to support poultry expansion due to the abundance of feed, ag-friendly communities and experienced livestock producers, not to mention motivated economic developers, like the Phelps County Development Corporation.”

Tillery said the expo will give him an opportunity to learn and make connections in the poultry industry.

“I hope to convey our strengths and openness to food processing and large-scale ag projects,” Tillery said of Phelps County.

Rick Nelsen, Senior Economic Development Consultant with NPPD, said Nebraska has a strong history in the poultry industry citing Michael Foods in northeast Nebraska, Smart Chicken in southeast Nebraska and now the recent Hendrix Genetics and Costco projects. The state offers a great opportunity for more poultry businesses looking to invest in new facilities to meet growing market demands.

“The notoriety brought by the recent Hendrix Genetics and Costco projects is a great conversation starter as we visit with exhibitors and other attendees at the show,” Nelsen said.

Jason Guernsey, Business Recruitment Manager for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, cited several reasons why Nebraska makes sense for the poultry industry and why recent companies, such as Hendrix Genetics and Costco, chose Nebraska to expand their businesses:

  1. Low business cost and a business-friendly regulatory climate, ranking No. 4 best state for business by Forbes magazine (2017). Nebraska has been in the top 10 in nine of the last 10 years. Nebraska also received a No. 4 ranking for best regulatory environment by Forbes.
  2. Nearly half of Nebraska’s counties have received the “livestock friendly” designation from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
  3. A well-educated and trained workforce. Nebraska has a global reputation for the strong work ethic of its labor force.
  4. An abundant and high-quality supply of feed. Nebraska ranks No. 3 nationally in corn production, No. 5 in soybeans, and No. 7 in alfalfa. 
  5. Abundant water as Nebraska is located on the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest underground aquifer in North America. Nebraska ranks No. 1 in irrigated acres.
  6. Biosecurity benefits due to Nebraska’s low population density.
  7. A centralized location with two class I railroads and Interstate 80 allowing for easy access to markets and transportation cost savings.
  8. The quality of life factor for employees as Nebraska boasts safe communities with low crime rates and a public education system that rivals private schools in other more-populated states with 81 nationally ranked high schools.

Guernsey said many Nebraska communities have industrial sites ready and waiting for new projects, including Phelps County’s 134-acre Iron Horse Industrial Park.

Nelsen said the expo gives Nebraska representatives the opportunity to promote the state’s resources to value-added processors or suppliers to value-added food manufacturers. They also hope to visit with architectural, engineering and construction firms who work in value-added food sectors or do site selection for clients.

“Nebraska is open for business for agriculturally-based industries,” Nelsen said. “We believe Nebraska has the natural resources and other advantages, such as lower cost of doing business, to make it an attractive location for these types of businesses.”

For more information, contact Ron Tillery at the Phelps County Development Corporation at or (308) 995-4148.