Looking for new economic options

Thank-you to everyone who helped with, supported the effort to oppose, and voted against supporting a “destination casino” on the Marion County referendum.

Your efforts and support did influence the outcome and sent a message to our commissioners that the costs outweigh the benefits. I hope this matter is behind us so the county can begin to look for win-win solutions to economic development.

During the casino fiasco, I heard and read comments asking for suggestions for economic development. Here is one to consider.

Our country’s energy needs are not going to decline. What about an ethanol or soybean-crushing plant? Both would produce products that could be used for our country’s energy consumption and provide renewable sources of environmentally friendly energy from locally grown crops.

I recently saw a report that stated if E10 gasoline was mandated for the United States, there’s not enough ethanol production in the to supply that demand.

I hear and understand the need for economic development in this area. While we look for opportunities, why not look at ideas that would enhance the value of locally grown crops?

At the same time, both ethanol and soy oil have by-products that make excellent livestock feed. Many cattle operations in the area already use Distillers grain (an ethanol by product).

The cost of shipping this wet, heavy product is one drawback of using Distillers grain. Yet many cattlemen in the area find that shipping this commodity in from Colwich is still a cost-effective feed source for them.

To my knowledge this same ethanol plant in Colwich is also one of the main buyers of our locally grown grain sorghum. The soybean-crushing plant at Emporia sets the price for Marion County soybeans like the ethanol plant at Colwich sets the price for grain sorghum.

So what is the down side to hosting one of these grain processors?

The value of locally grown crops could be increased because of reduced shipping costs and increased demand.

New jobs would be created.

A multi-million-dollar plant would have to be constructed and eventually placed on the tax rolls (assuming tax abatement would be offered as an incentive to build).

Area livestock operations would have a local supply of high-protein feed, thus lowering their cost of production.

Local farm auctions numbers would be down if farming is profitable.

If we wait for our cooperatives to do this, it probably won’t be built in Marion County.     

I am not discounting our local cooperatives. But they have informed their stockholders that the possibility of merging with “big brother” to the west is being researched.

From a Marion County economic development standpoint there should be a “red flag” waving on that proposal. In their defense I’m sure Cooperative Grain & Supply is in a tough spot and to survive will be forced to make changes.

This county still receives most of its lifeblood from agriculture. Do we really need to reinvent the wheel to achieve economic development? Maybe we just need to grease the wheel that we have.

Dale Nuss


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