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Natural Resources & Energy

Meat Could Be A Bigger Job Creator Than Coal Or Wind

Breakdown of direct, indirect, and induced jobs per 100 new employees for wind, coal, and slaughterhouses
Patrick Manning, Matthew Halama, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

A new report outlining the status of Wyoming's economy and workforce shows slaughterhouses could create more indirect and induced jobs than wind and coal state lines employees.

There are currently only a few slaughterhouses and meat packing plants in the state, but they’re small and don’t sell across state lines. Subcommittees within ENDOW and the Wyoming Business Council have discussed the idea of how improving the ability of Wyoming ranchers to market and sell their meat nationally would help diversify the economy.

That conversation has been bolstered by the passage of new legislation. This past legislative session, an economic diversification and development bill passed that expands agriculture marketing within the Wyoming Business Council. Ron Gullman, business development director at the Council, said his organization is researching federally-approved processing plants and how current slaughterhouses could become USDA approved. The marketing aspect of the bill would help sell beef with a “Buy Wyoming” sticker across the U.S. and the world.

Tony Glover, manager of research and planning at the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, says he heard about the idea through ENDOW. Now, the 2018 DWS annual report predicts how the value-added industry would impact Wyoming. Glover said it would affect several sectors including ranching, trade, transportation, and support activities.

“If you add 100 jobs, it’s going to create 249 jobs in beef, ranching, farming… so you also add 101 jobs to animal production except cattle and poultry,” Glover said.

Not to mention, 43 in truck transportation, 14 in wholesale trade, all adding up to about 671. Glover added that number may be an overestimate considering cattle and ranch workers are already in the state.

According to the report, slaughterhouses in the state could provide nearly $29 million in value-added funding to industries like transportation, ranching, and real estate. Patrick Manning, principal economist at DWS, helped write this chapter of the annual report.

“It’s something that’s being kicked around, the whole idea of diversifying our economy and everything. This is a new one versus coal mining’s been there for a long time and wind power. A lot more is coming online,” he said.

Manning said, the comparison of the industries is difficult given coal is heavily established and a wind farm typically doesn’t require any more than 20 workers.

A larger report comparing job creation among 59 potential industries is expected soon.

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