Kansas Dairy Ingredients breaks ground for Hugoton plant
By Kylene Scott
Hugoton and Stevens County officials along with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback broke ground on the Kansas Dairy Ingredients plant Aug. 16 in Hugoton, Kan. The plant is expected to process cheese and dairy ingredients.
The project was announced in April, and KDI will invest more than $20 million in the project and create 60 full-time jobs. Phase one is expected to be complete later in 2012.
"We're all very excited to be here and it's been a long time coming," Tim Gomez, chief operating officer, Kansas Dairy Ingredients, said. "Many, many days of long hours, a lot of work is finally coming to a point where we can share the excitement of our project with everybody here, so we sure appreciate the community being as supportive and helpful."
Local dairyman Brian Hemann is excited for the new plant and said it has been a long time coming.
"Tim worked really hard at putting together a group of people that were willing to work together to create a plan and a business model that's going to create long-term sustainability for the producer, processor, retailer and hopefully benefit the consumer," Hemann said. "I'd just like to thank everyone involved in this project and this is a great day for the dairy industry."
Brownback said expansion in the dairy industry was the next logical step in Kansas.
"This is the second dairy plant we've announced in less than five months," Brownback said. "We've had a small dairy industry. You'd hardly find a milk cow in this part of the state. We're now 17th in milk production, headed for the top 10 fast."
Brownback said Kansas dairies have been shipping virtually all of the milk produced out of state. He sees the importance in keeping the industry local and in the state.
"It's critical for us to be able to grow to build to our strengths. We do it on agriculture, we've done cattle, we're doing dairy now, now were gong to take the dairy processing on forward for us to be able to continue to grow," Brownback said. "We are blessed with oil and gas in region. I'd say probably the biggest thing we're blessed with is great people. Then you've also got a great water resource that we've got to protect on a long-term basis to move and grow this on forward."
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman agreed and praised the strengths of Kansas agriculture.
"Agriculture is the biggest business in the state of Kansas. It's original business," Rodman said. "It is still the main business today and it will be in the future. Kansas needs folks like you to provide examples of how to do things like this because the opportunities are just fantastic."
Kylene Scott can be reached by phone at 620-227-1804 or by email at email@example.com.