Rancher-Led Meat Plant, Sustainable Beef, Wins City Council Approval in North Platte

Dec. 7, 2021, 8 p.m. ·

A man in a gray suit stands at a podium in front of a row of five men listening to him speak. The five men are sitting behind a wooden desk with microphones in front of them. Flags, a television and a map are on the wall behind them.
David Briggs, the CEO of Sustainable Beef, speaks to the North Platte city council about the project. The approval comes after more than a year of organizing and it will take about four more years before the plant is fully operational, according to current construction plans. (Photo by Elizabeth Rembert, Nebraska Public Media)

The overflowing room in North Platte’s city hall was hopeful. And then elated last night when council members unanimously approved plans to welcome the processing plant, named Sustainable Beef, into town.

The rubber stamp kicks off the process for the company to buy land from the city with a public subsidy. Eventually, the facility on that land will process 400 cattle daily.

Sustainable Beef Chief Executive Officer David Briggs has said that the project would have been an uphill climb without the help of public financing.

The group overcame the hurdle after more than a year of planning. The founders are western Nebraska ranchers seeking a fairer spot in the cattle industry.

Almost 20 people shared their opinions with the council in the lead-up to the vote. The majority gave their full support. Two men – acknowledging they want a better position for cattlemen in the beef industry – voiced worries about potential problems regarding traffic and other issues.

Council members said they take concerns about roads and lighting extremely seriously, and pressed the group on logistics for traffic control, odor mitigation and light quality.

The plant promises 875 jobs to North Platte, and a study from Creighton economist Ernie Goss found it could have a $1 billion impact on the stagnant town. Mayor Brandon Kelliher echoed those who said the decision marked the start of a new future for North Platte.

“Today is the first step for a great many things for our community,” Kelliher said. “Yes, there will be some challenges. But we will meet them by sticking together. We will not meet them by being divisive and dividing ourselves.”