Bill Crider of Lincoln Premium Poultry, one of Costco’s poultry providers thanked AFAN and AFAN Partners for their support of the proposed chicken processing plant planned for Fremont.
Lincoln, NE — Despite current low prices, there’s plenty of optimism about the future of the livestock industry in Nebraska.
That was evident at the recent annual meeting of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) in Lincoln as leaders of Nebraska’s cattle, hog, dairy and poultry industries talked about the growth—and potential for growth—in their individual production sectors.
Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, delivered a very positive report. Juhnke said Nebraska’s pig numbers are up nine percent, with finishing hogs up ten percent. “We’ve turned the corner on pork production in Nebraska, “Juhnke said. “Nebraska is open for business in pork production.”
After several years of declines, Nebraska’s dairy cow numbers are also increasing, according to Nebraska State Dairy Association executive director Rod Johnson. “We’ve started to turn it around. We‘ve seen a 14 percent increase in dairy cows in recent years,” Johnson said.
One sector that holds great promise is broiler chickens. In the coming months, Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry will make a final decision on plans to build a chicken processing plant at Fremont. The proposed plant will process two million chickens a week and the chickens would be raised by over 100 contract growers in east-central Nebraska. The birds would consume 365,000 bushels of corn and 3,000 tons of soybean meal each week, all of which will come from local farmers.
Bill Crider of Lincoln Premium Poultry addressed the gathering. He said company officials have been “overwhelmed by the response of farmers—it’s fun to be around people so excited about agriculture.” Crider also thanked AFAN for its assistance throughout the process. “We wouldn’t be here today without AFAN and AFAN’s partners. Nebraska’s leadership has been amazing,” Crider said.
In her annual report, AFAN executive director Willow Holoubek urged supporters to get involved in livestock expansion efforts. “We expect to have about 200 permitting hearings in the coming year,” Holoubek said. “The ‘not in my backyard’ mentality is a challenge in Nebraska and we need to help people understand how important the livestock industry is to their communities and to the state.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Extension Specialist in Animal Genomics and Biotechnology at the University of California-Davis. She spoke on “Effective Communication about Agriculture: What Works and What Does Not”.
“I try to have a discussion with the audience about what it is that concerns them about animal agriculture and then give them kind of a scenario where it’s like, ‘Okay, you don’t like this particular production practice being used—this is why it’s used—and here are the alternatives to address that problem’. And then make them wrestle with the trade-offs associated with all technologies,” Van Eenennaam said.
“There’s very real ramifications to agricultural production systems when you preclude access to innovation,” she added. “Just saying ‘no’ actually comes with some very real consequences.”
The annual meeting of AFAN was sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board and Nebraska Corn Board.