A few years ago, the Omaha World-Herald reported that a new and dynamic industry was sweeping Midwest production. “While an agriculture startup may not be as sexy as a software startup, the importance of agricultural innovation to the Midwest economy is undeniable . . . Providing readily available, low-cost feed options to livestock producers means farmers and ranchers can mitigate some of the volatility in grain-dependent feed markets,” writes Cole Epley. In 2014, agriculture and bioscience experts were sure that biorefinery startups, specializing in turning residue into pellets for animal feed, would start an emergent new industry.
Last week, animal feed manufacturer Pellet Technology USA confirmed that prediction when they announced their new manufacturing plant in York, Nebraska, joining the ranks of dozens of other animal feed manufacturers in the state. On Thursday, the York County Development Corporation announced that the manufacturer would be making a multi-million dollar investment in the plant, as well as creating 38 new jobs at the startup.
Pellet Technology USA was one of the companies highlighted by Epley back in 2014. Back then, they were considering locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, or California. However, both York and Pellet Technology will benefit from the surrounding excess corn stover available in York, all of which will come from a 50-mile radius of the city (providing an additional cash crop for area corn farmers). “We’re grateful for the welcome from the community and each local producer involved with our program. Everyone’s excited to bring this first facility and the next generation of feed to York,” says COO Russ Zeeck.
The company is on a mission to reduce the use of fossil fuels in America by adding value to corn residue and repurposing it for animal feed. As they explain, “One of the things corn farmers have noticed lately is how much more field waste they accumulate on their land. They have seen how waste from good yields will get to a point where the waste will inhibit yields or cause excess work to get rid of it.” And according to multiple studies, this waste is only going to continue to grow. So, Pellet Technology harvests biomass that would usually be put aside as waste, and instead pelletizes it (you can look at their patented process here) to create a product that is not only easily transported and stored, but nutritionally enhanced to make animal digestion easier than it is with existing feed rations.
As York’s Mayor Chuck Harris tells NTV, “This is a good example of recruiting an identified industrial target which will benefit our farmers and overall community.” Because of the company’s close ties with the local agricultural community in order to source the “waste,” animals, the environment, and the region will all benefit from this innovative manufacturing process.
It’s tremendously exciting news, and certainly exciting for the Nebraska manufacturing community. We look forward to following the progress of Pellet Technology USA as they move to their new York location!