From the September/October 2021 Issue
The August 2021 release of the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the first to adopt the World Trade Organization’s definition of “Agricultural Products.” This adds ethanol, distilled spirits and manufactured tobacco products, etc., while removing rubber and allied products from the previous USDA definition.
“The net effect of the definitional change on historical values is that U.S. agricultural exports under the new definition averaged $4.7 billion higher per year during FY (fiscal year) 2018-2020 from the previous definition, and U.S. agricultural imports averaged $9.9 billion higher annually during the same period.”
With these new inclusions/exclusions, U.S. agricultural exports in FY 2022 are projected at $177.5 billion.
Soybean exports are projected to a record $32.3 billion due to higher prices. Cotton exports are forecast to be $6.8 billion based on higher unit values. Horticultural product exports are forecast to a record $37.7 billion, led by higher exports of tree nuts, while grain and feed exports are forecast at $41.8 billion, down by $1.1 billion from FY 2021, primarily due to lower corn export prospects. FY 2022 livestock, poultry and dairy exports are forecast at $36.8 billion. Dairy product exports are anticipated at $7.5 billion due to stronger import demand from Mexico and Asia.
U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2022 are forecast at $159.5 billion due to higher imports of livestock and beef products, oilseeds and horticulture products.
CENTRAL INDIANA FAVORS FOOD PROCESSING EXPANSIONS
As the nation’s economy continues to rebound from the pandemic-induced slump, central Indiana communities are experiencing an upswing in agribusiness manufacturing enterprises.
A survey released by the Site Selectors Guild earlier this year found that the number of new manufacturing projects has increased rapidly since a year ago, with manufacturing location decisions especially active due to high demand for consumer goods and industrial durables.
In the Midwest, Henry County, Indiana, is finding those trends to be true, particularly in the agribusiness sector. The county’s industrial park, anchored by Boar’s Head Brand processing and distribution center, is undergoing its third expansion.
“We’ve got a lot of construction activity taking place at the New Castle-Henry County Industrial Park,” noted Corey Murphy, president of the New Castle/Henry County Economic Development Corp. “Boar’s Head is finishing its hummus operations, construction of another shell building is underway, one of our automotive employers is expanding and we’re investing in road infrastructure to open up additional land for development.”
The county is an ideal location for manufacturing and food processing companies, he added, with site selection opportunities ranging from the growing industrial park to rural destinations with room to expand.
Located just 40 minutes east of Indianapolis, Indiana and approximately an hour west of Dayton, Ohio along Interstate 70, the county prides itself on offering a quality of life that mixes small town living with access to big city culture. Once stranded among Rust Belt casualties, the county now boasts a diversified advanced manufacturing base that includes a smorgasbord of food and manufacturing industries.
The change began to take hold in 2016 when Boar’s Head Brand opened a new manufacturing and research facility in the industrial park, which sits off Exit 123 on I-70 and State Road 3. “We were slowly coming out of the national recession when the Boar’s Head site selection process began,” Murphy explained. “Landing a major food production project was a real shot in the arm to community morale.”
Boar’s Head has expanded several times since then, investing $113 million into Henry County and employing nearly 500 people. “Once they built and became so successful and continued to invest, that helped us in our business attraction efforts,” Murphy added.
Most recently, TS Tech, a privately held, Japanese-owned Tier 1 auto seat supplier located in the industrial park, announced the company was investing $19.1 million to add 167,000 square feet to its New Castle operations, doubling the size of the current plant.
The area’s proximity to I-70 supports critical supply chain needs while community partnerships ensure solid business relationships.
Melissa True, CEO of Henry County REMC and a member of the economic development board, explained. “Going the extra mile is embedded in the cooperative culture. When Boar’s Head came in, we upgraded a substation to meet capacity needs at no cost to them,” she said. “When TS Tech announced its expansion, we immediately began meeting with them to work out the details on their electric needs.”
The REMC and its power supplier, generation and transmission cooperative Hoosier Energy, pride themselves on building trusting relationships with agribusiness partners. True said the REMC works diligently to help land a project. “When they give us an itemized list of electric requirements, we often can work up a rate structure or upgrade capacity based on their needs. These companies are part of our community and we are here to help them succeed,” she said.
“Utilities are an absolutely critical partner. It sounds cliché, but delivering power in a reliable and timely manner is absolutely essential to industrial growth. Without Henry County REMC and Hoosier Energy’s electrical buildout of our industrial development site, we wouldn’t be able to attract global companies,” Murphy said.
Elsewhere in the county, other advanced manufacturers that support the agribusiness supply chain are expanding, from fork lift operators to hops producers.
Crown Equipment Corp., a global lift truck manufacturer based in Ohio, announced in March the privately held U.S. company was adding 300 jobs nationwide as demand for supply chain equipment, technologies and services in material handling operations continued to ramp up. Crown, which recently was named to the Food Logistics 2020 FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers list for the eighth consecutive year, employs 300 at its New Castle, Ind. plant.
Crazy Horse Hops Farm in Knightstown, which started as a fledgling hobby in 2015, is now the state’s largest hops farm, expanding from 25 acres to more than 100. The farm is completing a processing and warehouse complex that will allow them to not only handle their own crop, but also process hops for other growers on a contract basis.
Holic Foods in Middletown, Indiana, has grown steadily since owners Frances and Tonio Torres began production of their clean label, all-natural sauces, dips and condiments in 2019. The company’s facility adheres to Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute Level 2 certification standards, allowing Holic Foods to handle acidified and high-acid food products, the only facility of its kind in Indiana.
Business partnerships with the New Castle area career center and nearby Ivy Tech ensure a skilled workforce. In addition, the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation offers a revolving loan fund to help small businesses start successfully. The office also partners with the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center, which mentors new business owners on training and education, funding and business resilience, as well as providing information about employment and human resources.
“Collaborative partnerships drive community success,” Murphy said. “Many area companies are hiring, the housing market is bustling and businesses are looking to relocate here. Things are happening in Henry County.”
[This section was written by Mary Lynn Beaver.]
AGRIBUSINESS BOOMS IN THE BLUEGRASS STATE
When thinking of Kentucky’s food and beverage industry, images of bourbon and fried chicken might come to mind. But this booming sector includes so much more, and it’s spurred billions of dollars of investment in the state over the past few years.
Complementing this growth is the state’s burgeoning agritech industry, which seeks to improve efficiencies in agriculture using Kentucky’s prowess in advanced manufacturing. With a growing number of businesses with a broad range of specialties expanding throughout the state, Kentucky’s food, beverage and agritech sector is helping to power the commonwealth’s strong economic momentum.
Kentucky’s iconic bourbon industry—a mainstay of the state’s food and beverage sector—continues to thrive. In April, as part of a project to revive a historic site in Nelson County about 50 miles east of Louisville, startup Log Still Distillery announced plans to create 126 full-time jobs with a $24 million Phase 2 investment as the company opens Dant Crossing, a 300-acre campus with amenities including a tasting room, amphitheater, restaurant, train depot and event/conference center, visitor center, museum and gift shop in the coming years.
While bourbon’s international appeal continues to rocket, Kentucky’s agritech, food and beverage companies run the gamut. AppHarvest, a Kentucky-based startup in the controlled-environment agritech industry, broke ground in June on its fourth and fifth large-scale, high-tech greenhouses. AppHarvest’s second indoor farm—its leafy green facility in Berea—is approximately 40 percent complete, and its third, a tomato facility in Richmond, Kentucky, is more than 30 percent complete. The company’s flagship farm—a $100 million, 300-job greenhouse in Morehead, Kentucky—sold 8.6 million pounds of tomatoes in the second quarter of 2021.
Agritech also includes paper and paperboard recyclers and container producers, including Canada-based Kruger Packaging. In May, Gov. Beshear and the company’s leaders announced a $114.2 million state-of-the-art packaging manufacturing operation in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a project that will create at least 150 quality jobs in the coming years. The new 400,000-square-foot facility to be located at T.J. Patterson Industrial Park in Elizabethtown represents the company’s first corrugated box plant in the U.S.
In the same category, Gov. Beshear in August announced one of Kentucky’s most substantial projects to date in 2021, as he helped unveil Pratt Paper LLC’s plans to construct a $400 million paper mill in the northwestern city of Henderson. The project, which will create 321 well-paying jobs for Kentuckians over the next five years, will manufacture 100% recycled products. Pratt also plans a 700,000-square-foot plant to produce corrugated sheet and boxes, including pizza boxes and packaging for major distributors and big box stores, using paper sourced from the new paper mill.
Kentucky’s supportive business climate played a key role in developing such a robust, diverse food and beverage sector, with one important advantage being its unparalleled logistics capabilities. Located within a day’s drive of roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, the state offers premier access to consumers in the Eastern U.S. Kentucky also offers access to 10 interstates and 10 parkways; 2,600 miles of freight rail; and over 1,600 miles of commercially navigable waterways, giving companies numerous options to ensure products reach their destination quickly.
To that end, several companies that support Kentucky’s 350-plus food, beverage and agritech facilities—which employ roughly 52,000 people statewide—are growing in the Bluegrass State as well. For example, Lexington-based Quality Logistics LLC, doing business as Longship, in August opened its new office in Fayette County, a $4.3 million investment creating 155 well-paying jobs for Kentucky residents.
Established in Lexington in 2012, Longship is a third-party logistics provider specializing in shipping fresh, frozen and dry products. The company began with a lone double-wide trailer transporting produce throughout the United States and has grown to include operations in Lexington and Nashville, with a network of 400,000 trucks equipped with load-tracking GPS services and 24/7 client support.
Longship is part of Kentucky’s standout distribution and logistics industry, which employs nearly 80,000 people at 590 facilities statewide. The state’s leadership in logistics provides a significant benefit to food, beverage and agritech companies, a trend slated to continue upward in the years ahead.
With Kentucky in the midst of an economic surge, the state’s food, beverage and agritech sector is set for more solid growth. Since the start of 2020, roughly 70 new location and expansion projects within the food-and-beverage industry are expected to create more than 2,000 full-time jobs with over $1.3 billion in announced investments.
DISCOVERY LIFE SCIENCES PUTS GLOBAL HQ AT HUDSONALPHA
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a nonprofit genomics and genetics research institute in Huntsville, Alabama, is expanding its campus, providing growth opportunities for its agriscience program and a global life sciences company.
“I am thrilled to see the vision that Lonnie and I had over a decade ago continue to take shape and evolve to provide solutions to help our world,” said Jim Hudson, HudsonAlpha co-founder. “Our research teams will now have the capabilities to take our plant science and sustainable agriculture program to the next level.”
The expansion will consist of two facilities: the global headquarters for resident associate company Discovery Life Sciences, and new state-of-the-art laboratory and greenhouse space for HudsonAlpha’s Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture.
“This is a significant milestone not only for HudsonAlpha, but the entire state as well,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development. “Through this expansion, HudsonAlpha further solidifies its leadership position and expertise in plant genomics. Additionally, Discovery Life Sciences’ choice of Huntsville, Alabama for their global headquarters highlights the quality of our bioscience workforce and business environment. We are grateful to Governor Ivey and the state of Alabama for their partnership and support, as well as the continued advocacy and assistance from the City of Huntsville and Madison County.”
HudsonAlpha was established with collaboration in mind. Co-founders Jim Hudson and Lonnie McMillian recognized that in order to quickly move research discoveries to market, scientists and entrepreneurs needed to reside on the same campus, making collaboration inevitable. Their vision was brought to life, and continues to be, with nonprofit researchers and associate companies working toward the same goal: improving human health and quality of life.
The Institute is at the center of the growing biotech talent in North Alabama and home to companies that have relocated from all over the Southeast to join an ecosystem that promotes collaboration on solving some of the world’s most challenging problems.
Discovery Life Sciences (DLS) chose HudsonAlpha’s biotech campus for their global headquarters. DLS is an international market leader in biospecimen analysis, procurement and distribution for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostics industries. This global headquarters will consist of 90,000 square feet and house DLS’s research and development, laboratory and business operations.
“Discovery Life Sciences, formerly Conversant Bio, began with two entrepreneurs and is now a force in the biospecimen market, employing over 400 people around the world. We look forward to DLS growing its presence on HudsonAlpha’s campus,” said Jim Hudson, co-founder and chairman of the HudsonAlpha board.
Agriculture is currently facing many serious challenges from increasing scarcity of resources, yet as consumers, we expect production to continue to keep pace with an increasing human population. HudsonAlpha researchers are addressing these agricultural challenges through the HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture.
With this expansion, the HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture will add 13,000 square feet of lab and greenhouse space, and will be able to propagate and grow research plants here to improve existing crops and develop new uses for plants. HudsonAlpha’s collaborations with Auburn University and Alabama A&M University will be strengthened, while productivity will be enhanced. Specifically, the teams will advance genomics enabled breeding pipelines for new varieties of crops, will continue to maximize fuel production from plant biomass, reduce fertilizer use and reduce or eliminate fungicides to increase grower yields.
“HudsonAlpha is one of the world’s largest genomics institutes in plant science and we collaborate with research groups everywhere to discover and then apply the discoveries to crop improvement. We also will work closely with HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team to attract the next generation of plant science students. These students need to be trained and inspired to go further to make an even greater impact in improving agriculture,” said Jeremy Schmutz, who with Jane Grimwood, PhD, co-directs HudsonAlpha’s Genome Sequencing Center.
More than 45 bioscience companies have chosen to establish a presence on the HudsonAlpha campus, taking advantage of proximity to this cutting edge research and the state’s growing biotech workforce.
The biotech campus at HudsonAlpha is within Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in the United States, which co-locates Fortune 500 companies with local and international businesses specializing in a range of high-tech industries.
For more than 50 years, Huntsville has applied its expertise to aviation and missiles at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, and has accomplished great feats for NASA and the Army. HudsonAlpha has been applying the same passion and drive to the promise of genomics and use of biotechnology to improve the way we approach health and disease for 12 years.
PLANT YOUR BUSINESS ROOTS IN MIDDLESEX COUNTY
Middlesex County, Ontario is a place an increasing number of agribusinesses are calling home. In fact, the sector represents more than a quarter of all enterprises in the County. The combination of production, equipment, animal care, food processing and tourism, makes agribusiness Middlesex County’s largest employer—generating approximately $1.5 billion in economic impact.
Conveniently located along the 401 and 402 series highways, products grown or processed in Middlesex County are within easy shipping distance of Toronto and the U.S. market via border crossings at Windsor, Sarnia and Buffalo. Prime growing conditions make it possible for multinationals, such as Bonduelle, to contract land for the production of top quality produce for its frozen vegetable processing facility here. Having access to land also allows companies involved in research and development like Dow AgroSciences to test new plant varieties and other crop management programs. Investment attraction thrives across Middlesex County because of market access to the surrounding populations of the City of London, the Greater Toronto Area and the U.S.
With a population of 425,683, the City of London is Canada’s 11th largest city, which provides Middlesex with direct access to established economic sectors, and skilled graduates from Western University and Fanshawe College. Both education institutions rank high as leaders in research and public/private partnerships, which explains why Stats Canada identifies Middlesex County residents as possessing an education level higher than the national average. As Middlesex boasts a highly educated workforce with a reputation for quality work and a strong work ethic, they’re proud to be home to a thriving agribusiness sector booming with opportunity, accounting for a total of 20 percent of local employment.
A contributing factor to the success of the sector in Middlesex is owed to the County’s involvement as a member of the Ontario Food Cluster, assisting in the promotion of agri-food in Ontario Southwest on the global stage. As well, they sponsor initiatives such as agribusiness tours and agribusiness networking events that attract hundreds of industry stakeholders and exhibitors from across the region. The County also plays a role in helping the Middlesex London Food Policy Council focus on innovative solutions to make local food systems more sustainable.
Perfect for planting business roots, Middlesex County is home to vast tracts of some of the most fertile farmland in Canada, allowing for large harvests of an impressive variety of crops. Agribusiness facilities in the region are on the cutting edge of sustainability and environmentally-friendly technologies and processes, minimizing their carbon footprint and ensuring the area will continue to be the heartland of agricultural production in Ontario for generations to come. Visit www.investinmiddlesex.ca to learn more.
HAMILTON COUNTY, FL: WHERE AGRIBUSINESS GROWS
Hamilton County, FL is fertile grounds for agribusiness. Just ask Cultiva Farms USA and Swift Straw.
Cultiva Farms USA is a partnership between an Italian family company, Cultiva, and Taylor Farms, the largest American producer of fresh-cut vegetables and fruit. Cultiva Farms USA is in the midst of a $10-million project to build a leafy salad crop farm on a 460-acre ranch in nearby Jennings, Florida.
The farm’s 125 acres of covered hoop house tunnels produce and protect conventional spinach and arugula. An additional 80 greenhouses test organic production, and 600 more tunnels are planned for organic product. Working with a grant from the Hamilton County Development Authority (HCDA), an independent special district for county-wide economic development, Cultiva Farms USA hired 34 people and completed a cold storage facility that stores product prior to shipment throughout the region.
“We see this project as an exciting opportunity not only for our company but for agriculture and Hamilton County overall,” says Federico Boscolo, president of Cultiva Farms USA. “We are thrilled with our progress and thankful for the community’s continued support of our business.”
In 2017, Atlanta-based Swift Straw capitalized on Hamilton County’s easy access to two major interstates and purchased and renovated a vacant 75,000-square-foot window factory building owned by the HCDA. Swift Straw trailers now transport pine straw and mulch to property owners, hotels, schools, parks and regional retailers.
In November, Green Point Research, an international phytocannabinoid-rich hemp biomass originator and processor, is expanding operations with the purchase of a 32-acre headquarters campus in Hamilton County. The HQ will be called the Cannabis Center Of Excellence. “Hamilton County’s 72,000 acres of farmland is an ideal location for agriculture and food manufacturing,” said Chadd Mathis, Executive Director of the Hamilton County Development Authority.
Hamilton County is “Florida’s Front Porch” for startups, retailers, manufacturers, industry and increasingly agribusiness. Home to nearly 88,000 acres of farmland with a gross regional product of $329 million, agriculture is the fabric of Hamilton County’s economy. Its best-selling crops are grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas, corn, soybeans, hay and vegetables.
Ample open acreage and shovel-ready land, logistical services, key infrastructure, a skilled workforce and Southern hospitality, all make Hamilton County the perfect patch to plant your roots and grow your business.
Speed to market is critical to success. Hamilton County has two publicly-owned sites, offering more than 140 acres suitable for warehousing, distribution, manufacturing and precision agriculture. The local government is committed to fast tracking permits and offering infrastructure assistance to ensure your timeline and budgeting needs are met.
“For companies looking for the right combination of amenities and resources, our mission is to be your partner,” said Ramsey. “And if you want all that, plus natural beauty waiting to be explored, no destination can match Hamilton County.”
Hamilton County is located a drive along US 129 or US 41, or a hop off Florida’s first three exits from I-75. I-10 just to the south leads to two nearby airports and runs from the deep-water port of Jacksonville due west to the Pacific.
An eager and available workforce is supported by training partners at North Florida Community College, RIVEROAK Technical College, the University of Florida and Florida State University.
STOCKTON, CA OFFERS OPPORTUNITY
With a population of over 311,000, Stockton is the 13th largest city in California. It is situated along the San Joaquin Delta waterway, which connects to San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Stockton is the seat of San Joaquin County, one of the largest agricultural counties in the United States. San Joaquin County is the number one producer state-wide of pumpkins, cherries, asparagus, apples, corn, eggs and walnuts. Stockton has a large diversified skilled workforce with an affordable wage structure, in-place infrastructure and an abundance of educational and recreational opportunities.
California’s Central Valley is deeply rooted in agriculture and farm-related industries and makes the perfect backdrop to the food processing industry. Stockton is home to County Fair Pickles, Kevin’s Natural Foods, Farmer Brothers, Niagara Bottling, Yosemite Foods and more. Doing business in Stockton is advantageous because of its direct access to the Port of Stockton and major highway transportation corridors for efficient distribution to regional and international markets. As the nation’s third-largest distribution hub, it makes perfect sense that the City is home to many food and beverage processors, distributors and meal kit companies.
Located in Central California, the Stockton region has become the nation’s second-largest transportation and logistics hub because of its direct access to the state’s $3.2 trillion economy. One can get anywhere from Stockton via an uncongested highway system that connects to all major California and West Coast markets. In addition to the highway transportation corridors, the Stockton Metropolitan Airport features air cargo capabilities and includes one of the longest runways in the region, making it the only non-hub airport in Northern California able to accommodate the entire fleet of wide-body aircraft. Stockton is built around the Port of Stockton, the third largest landholder port in California, which has a Foreign Trade Zone designation in the deep-water channel; operates a diversified transportation center; and has warehousing served by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific.