Journalist Tim Johnson has done a superb job of investigating various meatpacking plants and their effect on local communities. Controversy exists regarding the costs and benefits of growth in the meatpacking and processing industry in Nebraska. Attracting agricultural processing facilities can be a popular strategy to revitalize employability and success. Opponents fear environmental damage to air and water quality, higher levels of crime, and heavier burdens on public services. Let’s learn from past endeavors to create an optimum future.
If North Platte invites Sustainable Beef to open a meatpacking plant in 2023, a positive outcome is possible. We can gain insight from other communities who have introduced this industry. Lexington created a consistent approach in law enforcement strategies. They also implemented schoolwide expanded learning opportunities for all students. School resource officers and staff can support positive childhood experiences for new students and their parents.
Gov. Pete Ricketts named North Platte the recipient of 2021’s Governor’s Showcase Community Award for outstanding achievements in economic development and the impactful use of state and federal funds. Hopefully, North Platte will create a positive environment for new employees who may work in the meatpacking plant, and the community will welcome new citizens who can enhance our community. As the industry continues to expand in rural America, further research will be needed to address questions regarding its effect on environmental quality and other quality-of-life aspects.