The North Bend Eagle


 

Area ripe for dairy expansion, could add millions to economy

Also: FAMC to expand North Bend clinic hours to five days a week

by Nathan Arneal
Published 8/14/13

At its monthly meeting on Aug. 7, the North Bend Chamber of Commerce was told that it’s area is ideal for the placement of a new dairy, a proposition that could pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

Willow Holoubek, the executive director of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), told the local group that her organization is trying to convince dairy farmers looking to expand their operations to open up a facility in Nebraska.

Holoubek said Dodge County is an ideal spot for a dairy because of its proximity sources of feed and five different dairy processing plants in Nebraska and western Iowa. A study has identified several locations a few miles north of North Bend as prime candidates. Ground in the Platte Valley would not be suitable because the water table is too close to the surface, and regulations require the water table to be a certain distance below a livestock operation.

Several of the local processing plants, such as those in West Point and Ravenna, would like to double their milk intake, Holoubek said, but the supply is currently not there.

Holoubek said she has been in contact with several large dairy families in California who are interested in expanding into the Midwest. Regulations and land prices make expanding in California cost prohibitive. These dairies employ up to 16 full-time employees, Holoubek said. An economic impact analysis by Nebraska Public Power District estimates that a typical 2,000-cow dairy would add $10 million per year into the local economy. That figure comes from increased tax revenue, fuel sales, truck maintenance, construction, supplies and other factors.

Earlier last Wednesday, the Dodge County Board of Supervisors officially designated Dodge County as a livestock friendly county. For now, that designation is merely symbolic, but it should help in A-FAN’s recruiting efforts.
A-FAN’s goal is to bring 20,000 cows into the state in the next five years. Holoubek said each cow represents about $13,000 worth of economic activity per year.

In other Chamber business, Ryan Bojanski of the Fremont Area Medical Center attended the meeting to give an update on FAMC’s plans to expand its presence in North Bend.

FAMC’s clinic on Main Street North Bend has recently undergone physical renovation, and it will soon be expanding its hours as well, Bojanski said. Currently, the North Bend Family Care clinic is open Monday and Friday mornings, but it will soon be open five days a week, with a tentative starting date in early September. The North Bend clinic will likely be open half days, alternating between mornings and afternoons, Bojanksy said. The final schedule is still being finalized.

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