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Western Kansas In The Running For A Dairy Processing Plant

KSCB News - November 18, 2011 8:39 am

On the plains of western Kansas, where more than 70,000 cows are milked daily, attracting a processing plant to this region of the state is a priority for Gov. Sam Brownback.

"A cheese factory would be a powerful tool for long-term economic growth in rural Kansas," said Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag. "It is a priority. It would mean good jobs and more revenue for decades."

It is a change from 20 years ago, when the first large-scale dairy was built in Hamilton County and future development of the fledgling industry was just dreams.

These days, however, a few dozen industrial-strength dairies dot Kansas where crops like wheat and corn once grew — operations that stretch across a mile section.

Now as Brownback and his Cabinet search ways to grow the rural countryside, attracting a viable industry like a milk-processing plant to southwest Kansas has become one of their top focuses.

Already things are happening. Grant County Economic Development Director Leslie Mangels said a foreign investor is interested in building a dry milk-processing plant in the U.S. The dried milk would be used in his cheese factories in Europe.

Ulysses is in the running with Michigan and South Dakota for the 60-employee plant, she said. Consultants visited Ulysses two weeks ago. Mangels said she could learn the final decision any day.

The same investor looked at Kansas in 2004, but at that time, the state didn’t have enough milk production, Mangels said.


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