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COLUMBUS — Gov. Pete Ricketts touted the future of Nebraska’s agriculture industry on Saturday during an address to more than 120 people in Columbus.

Ricketts spoke to a crowd made of those from around the state with ties to agriculture inside the Ramada Hotel and River’s Edge Convention Center during the final day of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference.

Ricketts discussed what he and other Nebraska leaders in Lincoln are doing to help and promote the state’s ag industry, which he said is essential to Nebraska’s growth.

“We have a great legacy here in our state with our No. 1 industry,” Ricketts said. “One in four jobs in Nebraska is tied back to agriculture.”

He highlighted the many trade missions he has taken to places like Japan, China, Canada and Mexico over the years that have helped promote Nebraska, noting “30 percent of everything we grow here is going to be exported.”

He then talked about “added-value agriculture,” noting that modern-day technology and innovation are helping the industry add value to Nebraska’s traditional commodities.

“We have to do more to promote things (that) add value to Nebraska,” he said, adding that livestock is one of the many things that can boost the state’s economy. “We want to make sure livestock has a place here in our state where it can expand and grow because that is a great example of how we can create more economic activity in our state …”

He cited Costco breaking ground on its first-ever chicken processing plant in Fremont, calling it a massive investment that will have a huge economic impact on the state by creating hundreds of new jobs and opportunities for more than 100 farmers through a poultry grower network.

“You may be in the beef industry and the pork industry, but we all have an interest in making sure all of livestock is successful,” he said. “And so supporting those types of operations where we can put up those poultry barns is very important. We all need to be part of that ...”

Ricketts’ address was only one portion of a busy two-day conference. Participants toured Jindra Angus in Clarkson, ADM, Duo Lift and Behlen Manufacturing on Friday, heard a keynote address from Matt Lohr and had time to sit in on discussions about various topics.

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