Production leads to processing which leads to progress. That is the desired path of value-added economic development. It was true for the Kansas beef industry in the 1980s and 1990s, and it is now coming true in the Kansas dairy industry. Milk production in western Kansas has grown to the point that new milk processing capacity has developed there as well.
Last week we learned about the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance, or wKREDA, which works on various regional issues including growing the dairy industry in western Kansas. Many of the leaders of wKREDA had seen the boom in jobs which resulted from the growth of meatpacking in the region during the 1980s and `90s. It was a long progression. The production of irrigated feed grain led to the creation of concentrated cattle feeding. Then the packing plants wanted to be close to the source of production, and large beef packing facilities were built in southwest Kansas.