Food & Agriculture Related

Where Food Producers and Processers Go to Grow

31 Dec, 2012

By: Linda Dobel

In early December 2012, The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report1 that declared the United States is the undisputed world leader in agricultural production today. To the north, a report from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada described the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system as “a modern, highly complex, integrated, internationally competitive and growing part of the Canadian economy.”2

Clearly, this business sector is a bountiful one. Food and agri industry site selectors across North America who are eager to plant new roots in fruitful locations will be happy to learn that we have gathered descriptions of must-know locations, as follows, that are sure to produce the bottomline harvest you are seeking — and should be on your short list for your expansion endeavors in 2013.

Arkansas is a noted leader in the South for its favorable business climate and entrepreneurial spirit. Sectors including agricultural biosciences and advanced food manufacturing continue to grow. Arkansas is home to companies such as Riceland Foods, the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice, located in Stuttgart, and Tyson Foods, the world’s largest producer of protein products including chicken, beef and pork. Tyson, one of Arkansas’s four homegrown Fortune 500 companies, also operates a food-safety laboratory near its Springdale headquarters, which provides the latest technology in food testing and research. Dillard’s, Murphy Oil, and the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, join Tyson on the list of homegrown Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Arkansas.

In addition to several education and research facilities focused on biosciences and food safety, Arkansas’s agricultural industry provides access to raw food products. Arkansas is the nation’s number-one producer of rice, number-two producer of broilers and number-three producer of catfish, cotton, cottonseed and turkey.

Located in the geographic center of the U.S., Arkansas's transportation network of highways, railways, air routes and waterways meets the needs of businesses seeking access to U.S. and global markets.

Arkansas is home to people with a strong work ethic and available training for whatever the need. The state’s workforce is almost 1.5 million strong and projected to grow by four percent by 2015. Available workforce is one reason food manufacturers find success in Arkansas with nearly 50,000 people employed in the food manufacturing industry and 14 percent working in the manufacturing industry.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Boots

Boonville, Missouri
Located in what has long been referred to as “America’s Bread Basket,” Boonville, Missouri, is situated halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis in the center of food and agriculture production for North America. The City of Boonville and surrounding Cooper County is in the middle of soybean, corn and wheat fields that are key ingredients in food production. Turkey, pork and beef production are also vibrant in the region.

Several food producers and distributors have nestled into a fine existence in this area, with plenty of resources and infrastructure at hand. Ellis Bakery, a specialty bread bakery in Prairie Home just a few miles from Boonville, has found the region is the place to be for its business of supplying food service vendors. To the north, in New Franklin, is Jennings Premium Meat Company. A third-generation family operation, Jennings Premium Meat Company is close to the raw product needed for its line of meat snack food items.

Having I-70 running through Boonville with easy access provides food producers and distributors with channels to transport finished goods to the rest of North America. The Missouri River that boarders the City of Boonville to the north provides an abundant amount of water and also serves as an additional transportation option for bulk raw material through the use of river barges.

Cecil County, Maryland
Agricultural pursuits have dominated the Cecil County, Maryland, landscape and economy for centuries. Though its land base is shrinking, agriculture is still an important and growing industry, and local farms produce products for local, regional, national and international marketplaces.

Cecil County is comprised of 222,824 acres, of which, approximately 34.6 percent is devoted to farmland. Much of the agricultural land is devoted to cash grain and dairy farms. Principal crops are corn, soybeans and wheat. Secondary crops include hay, barley, tree fruits, vegetables and berries.

One of Cecil County’s premier high-tech food production facilities is owned and operated by Phillips Mushroom Farms, located in Warwick Maryland. In 2008, Phillips Mushroom Farms expanded their operations into Maryland and constructed a new state-of-the-art facility in Warwick. The Warwick facility exclusively grows white agaricus mushrooms in over 480,000 square feet of growing surface. In order to meet customer demand, the facility has been expanded twice since 2008. This high-tech facility creates uniform growing conditions throughout the environment-controlled rooms. The various rooms are harvested multiple times, 24 hours a day, when they reach their optimal size. Largely, Phillips Mushroom Farms serves most of the eastern United States and is the largest grower of specialty mushrooms in the United States.

Chippewa County, Wisconsin
Rural communities are getting more attention from site selectors according to Charlie Walker, president/CEO, Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation. Take, for instance, Stanley, Wisconsin, population 3,608, directly off four-lane state Highway 29, this community offers market benefits that include a more stable employee recruitment base, reduced employee turnover, proximately to major metropolitan areas via rail and highway infrastructures as well as the ability to customize incentive packages rapidly.

Stanley, Wisconsin, has an added advantage over most rural communities — it has spent several years planning and developing a 390-acre mixed-use industrial and business park that offers low municipal water and sewer rates, storm water connections, a rapidly growing four-lane highway corridor and access to rail.

Archer Daniels Midland, ACE Ethanol and LaGranders Hillside Dairy along with manufacturers Film Tech and Trophy Trailers that are located in or near the city-owned mixed-use industrial and business park are examples of successful companies that are experiencing these rural advantages.

Rick Troyer, general manager, Archer Daniels Midland, Stanley, a worldwide agriculture processer, notes, “Our employees in Stanley are some of the most productive and have an outstanding work ethic second to none.”

This business-friendly community is activity looking for additional food processing manufacturers to join them, share the rural advantages and appreciate the short travel times to metropolitan areas such as Eau Claire (29 miles), Wausau (66 miles), Madison (204 miles), Green Bay (158 miles), Milwaukee (258 miles) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (120 miles).


Algoma Orchards owner Kirk Kemp at its solar roof project unveiling in July 2012.

Clarington, Ontario, Canada
The Municipality of Clarington, on the Eastern border of the Greater Toronto Area, is located conveniently along the Highway 401 corridor. With a sought-after quality of life and a rich blend of rural and urban living, Clarington’s roots in agriculture run deep throughout the community.

Home to over 400 working farms, agriculture and food processing combine to be one of the top-two industries leading Clarington’s economy. As its food processing sector begins to emerge, it has seen the opening of facilities such as Algoma Orchards, which opened its doors with a 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art apple processing/juicing facility, and a market covering North America.

Soy beans, corn, wheat and many fruits and vegetables, as well as livestock and dairy, form a large portion of Clarington’s agriculture production. With some of the richest soil in the province, Clarington farms have been awarded the top soy bean yield per acre for the past three consecutive years.

With neighboring post-secondary institutions such as Durham College and the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology, innovation in agriculture is astonishing. Durham College Centre for Food, a $20 million project, is currently underway and set to open in Fall 2013. It has specialties in agriculture, farming and plant biology; it will educate over 900 students in its first year.

Agri-business flourishes in Clarington and with changes in innovation will continue to thrive in the years to come.

Indiana (Community Served by Indiana Municipal Power Agency)
Agriculture plays a vital role in Indiana’s economy. With over 15 million acres of farmland, Indiana is a leading producer of corn, soybeans, hogs, poultry and tomato products. Coupled with a strong manufacturing sector, Indiana’s economy has remained stable and even grown during the recession. Indiana’s leadership has made the state a secure and predictable place for businesses, with the highest credit ratings from rating agencies, capped property taxes and a reduced corporate income tax rate.

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA), a wholesale electric provider to 58 communities, helps enhance Indiana’s great story. IMPA communities’ electric rates are among the lowest in the state, enabling the communities to focus on the importance of retaining and attracting new industry.

Indiana is known as the crossroads of America. With the construction of Interstate 69 in southwestern Indiana, this corner of the state will have improved access to markets. The first part of I-69 opened in November 2012, and the region is already realizing the benefits. Two of the largest food processing customers in IMPA-served communities are located in this region. Farbest Foods, Inc., located in Huntingburg, is a turkey processing facility with its headquarters in the city. In 2011, Farbest announced additional plans to grow in the region. Perdue, Inc., also a turkey processing facility, is located in Washington. There is a Washington exit off the new I-69 extension, and the community is already planning for the new growth it anticipates as a result of its key logistical placement.

Romeoville, Illinois
Romeoville, Illinois, has long been a popular center for economic development, with a targeted focus on food processing in the recent years. Since2008, Romeoville has led the county in the food processing industry both in investment and in jobs. In these last four years alone, Romeoville has added over 1,200 food processing industry jobs, which is a testament to its appeal to this market.

In December 2012, Arzyta announced the development of a 450,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art baking facility, an investment of over $100 million dollars, with a workforce of approximately 400 employees.

To guarantee the continued industry success, Romeoville remains progressive in its investment in infrastructure and its workforce. Recent infrastructure improvements that assist in the growth of food processing development include a $27 million expansion of the waste water treatment facility, increasing the capacity to meet high demands; development of six separate ionization plants at a cost of over $4 million each; and the expansion of the water system.
The Village also remains proactive in addressing transportation needs. With over $19 million of improvements to its established transportation system, Romeoville’s location continues to be attractive for local development and will ensure that the region continues to be ranked number one nationally in food processing.


KaiYen Mai cuts the ribbon on the KYS Foods Jerky Plant in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, in October 2012 as her family looks on.

Scottsbluff, Nebraska
KYS Foods opened its new Jerky Plant in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, in October 2012, moving operations from San Francisco. KaiYen Mai is owner of the multi-national company. Her parents brought the company to the U.S. in 1979.

Mai said the rising cost of doing business, regulations, a cultural bias against meat production and a desire to expand the business precipitated the move.

"We could not add a second shift where we were in San Francisco," Mai said.

The company looked to Nebraska to solve these issues.

Sheryl Hiatt, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, first received an email from KYS Foods and Cayenne, LLC, on Sept. 15, 2010. By June, the company was meeting with local bankers. First State, Platte Valley Bank, Valley Bank and First National Bank worked together to provide a financial package for the company. The company built its plant at the Airport Industrial Park, with $865,000 in state and local economic funding.

Mai said she chose Scottsbluff because it's a small town, friendly and helpful.

“We felt the community would be here for us when the move was over,” Mai said. "Local incentives were important, as not all places have those. The diversity, with a 21 percent Hispanic population, reminds me of San Francisco where we are a melting pot."

1) US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
2) Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, “An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri Food System 2012” To request a copy of the complete publication, please contact the Research and Analysis Directorate at