The millions of “lean, mean, egg-laying machines” left Governor Pete Ricketts amazed Thursday morning as he toured Michael Foods, where he saw first-hand the $100 million investment made to the local economy.
“It really is amazing,” Ricketts said from the viewing room of one of the new cage-free poultry barns west of Bloomfield. “Just thinking of the logistics of bringing them in, feeding them, taking the eggs out. It’s pretty amazing.”
For the third straight year, Nebraska won the Governor’s Cup for having the most economic development projects per capita in the nation, and Michael Foods played a key role, Ricketts said.
During his stop, Ricketts praised the Knox County facility, which employs 110-120 full-time and 30-40 part-time staff.
“When Michael Foods invests here, that’s great for Bloomfield and all of the surrounding communities — all of Northeast Nebraska — because their $100 million investment is helping to create jobs,” he said.
Ricketts said by 2023, Michael Foods hopes to hire an additional 150-200 employees, which not only is more job opportunities, but it also creates opportunities for local farmers.
“They expect to be using 1 million more bushels of corn. Think about that: That’s on top of the 3 million they’re already using,” he said. “This economic investment is a big deal for the state of Nebraska.”
One of the highlights of the stop included a tour of a newly constructed barns for cageless birds. Michael Foods employees told the governor each building holds about 400,000 birds, and after construction is completed, there will be 2.4 million cage-free birds and 1.6 million caged. Eventually, they said, the Bloomfield farm will be entirely cage-free.
Ricketts asked managers a multitude of questions, ranging from the amount of feed consumed (22-25 pounds per 100 birds) to their life cycle (90-95 weeks with 79 weeks spent laying). The birds are hatched and spend their entire life at Michael Foods, where they are raised specifically for laying eggs.
“The logistics are amazing,” Ricketts repeated while viewing the facility where birds have free run of the system. Michael Foods uses an automated system for egg collection.
Managers said the Bloomfield facility will surpass 1 billion eggs for the year in late November or early December. They said each bird lays about 300 eggs per year.
While at Michael Foods, Ricketts presented a signed copy of the Site Selection magazine as a thank you for their continued commitment and part in winning the national accolades. He said Michael Foods is an example of commitment to the community, and he hopes other communities are as welcoming to companies as Bloomfield.
“It’s important to remember that no company invests in a generic place called Nebraska,” he said. “They only invest in communities and want to be welcomed into those communities. That’s important for Bloomfield and all of the communities. You have to think about how you are welcoming those companies. You have to be pro-active and let them know you want them.”