On RFD-TV: Eric Thompson
Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, talks about a new study into the economic benefits of adding dairy processing plants to the Husker state. The interview appeared live on RFD-TV, June 16, 2021.
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[00:00:00.000]Governor Pete Ricketts has declared June as dairy month.
[00:00:03.460]And as celebrations continue,
[00:00:05.060]the University of Nebraska is releasing a new study
[00:00:07.460]examining the potential economic impact
[00:00:09.820]of growing dairy processing within the Husker state.
[00:00:12.980]Well, Associate Professor of Economics,
[00:00:14.710]Dr. Eric Thompson, joins us now for a breakdown.
[00:00:17.820]And Dr. Thompson, we certainly appreciate
[00:00:19.750]your time here this morning.
[00:00:21.120]If you would, give us a snapshot of this study,
[00:00:23.440]and of course the main objective.
[00:00:27.280]The objective of the study was to look at
[00:00:31.020]how the state's economy would grow in reaction to
[00:00:34.570]attracting a new dairy processor to the state,
[00:00:37.500]such as a cheese plant or a butter plant.
[00:00:41.690]What would be some of the multiple benefits
[00:00:43.630]of expanding the dairy processing
[00:00:45.300]and attracting those folks into the state?
[00:00:49.490]Well, expanding a plant, but also a processing,
[00:00:53.810]bringing a processing plant into the state
[00:00:54.990]would also help expand the number of dairies in the state,
[00:00:59.570]either through expanding existing dairies or
[00:01:02.750]bringing additional dairies to the state.
[00:01:05.530]This would have a significant potential
[00:01:07.420]for job creation in Nebraska.
[00:01:10.280]And that was the objective of our study,
[00:01:11.750]to estimate that job creation.
[00:01:13.870]Depending on the specifics,
[00:01:15.100]it could be hundreds of jobs
[00:01:17.210]up to several thousand new jobs for the state.
[00:01:19.990]Dr. Thompson, what would be
[00:01:21.670]maybe a hurdle or two that you guys might have
[00:01:23.950]going through this process?
[00:01:27.690]Well, this is a significant expansion
[00:01:30.380]of an entire supply chain.
[00:01:32.950]So it'd be a challenge for economic developers
[00:01:35.570]and producers to bring in a whole supply chain,
[00:01:40.950]a large processor,
[00:01:42.370]but also ramping up or bringing in new dairies, as well.
[00:01:47.460]That would be a challenging thing to do
[00:01:49.610]for economic developers
[00:01:50.710]but it would also yield big rewards,
[00:01:52.850]in terms of employment and economic growth.
[00:01:56.430]So what would you say is the main takeaway
[00:01:58.800]from your findings that potential dairy producers,
[00:02:02.400]and also local communities, need to know?
[00:02:06.830]Well, I think an important finding is that
[00:02:08.600]we looked at three cases, Grand Island, Norfolk
[00:02:12.420]and South Sioux City,
[00:02:13.450]as potential locations for a new dairy processor.
[00:02:16.160]And what we found is, regardless of those three locations,
[00:02:19.360]there'd be a significant economic impact on our state.
[00:02:23.040]Would be largest for a butter producer,
[00:02:25.890]a little bit more modest, but still significant,
[00:02:28.300]for a fluid milk producer or a yogurt producer,
[00:02:32.100]but significant economic impacts in any of those locations.
[00:02:36.370]And I think what it also means is that, you know,
[00:02:39.360]we studied those three locations,
[00:02:41.060]but I think there could be other locations in the state
[00:02:43.510]that could benefit from an expansion of this industry.
[00:02:47.070]The crop output of Nebraska is constantly growing.
[00:02:50.080]We need new ways to process that crop output
[00:02:53.730]in value added agriculture,
[00:02:55.690]and the report talked about some of the benefits,
[00:02:57.920]if we were able to do that
[00:02:59.070]through expanding our dairy industry.
[00:03:01.680]Alright well, Professor,
[00:03:02.660]thank you very much for joining us.
[00:03:03.770]We appreciate it.
[00:03:04.760]UNL Associate Professor of Economics,
[00:03:06.730]Dr. Eric Thompson, of course,
[00:03:08.110]connecting with us today from the Husker state.
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