Agriculture & Animal Health

Definition and Overview: The Agriculture and Animal Health target captures crop and livestock production, government regulation and product promotion, and veterinary services that ensure the wellbeing and reproductive health of food animals. Along with these activities, the Agriculture and Animal Health target covers animal health research activities as well as the agriculture supply chain responsible for storing and distributing agricultural inputs and outputs. Kansas State University provides leading-edge animal health research capacity through the Beef Cattle Institute, the Center for Outcomes Research and Epidemiology, and the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health is a critical component of the target.

Company Composition: Local companies and public organizations included under the target sector include the Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Wheat, ADM Livestock Solutions, MS Biotec, NBO3, Nelson Poultry Farms Inc., Midwest Veterinary Services, MediVet Biologics, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and the numerous individual farmers, ranchers, and feedlot operators throughout the Greater Manhattan region.

Market Segments: The Manhattan region is particularly competitive for two types of activities within the agriculture and animal health sector: livestock production and animal health services. Livestock production encompasses the entire livestock production cycle from breeding to harvest. Animal health on the other hand includes activities that ensure the health and wellbeing of livestock. Veterinary services, laboratory testing services, and private sector research and development endeavors are also central components of the animal health market segment. Animal food manufacturing was not included as a subsector due to low regional job levels. As of 2017, only 15 local workers were employed in these firms.

Site Considerations: Site considerations for the Agriculture and Animal Health sector vary dramatically by market segment. Animal health companies desire commercial space capable of housing sophisticated laboratory operations and/or Class A office space. Due to the knowledge-based nature of their work, animal health companies will likely prefer locations proximate to Kansas State University and the research institutions housed on or adjacent to the K-State campus. Laboratory requirements will vary by company depending on research needs and the nature of the biological contagions they handle. In contrast, agricultural and livestock production companies require extremely large tracts of undeveloped land, a plentiful water supply, and an interconnected transportation network to transport equipment and livestock to and from market which is abundant in both counties with the necessary utilities and roads.

National Trends: Global population growth will strain the nation’s food production system. The United Nations projects that global population will expanded from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 9.7 billion in 2050. As the global population continues to grow, the raw number of mouths to feed will require productivity enhancements; the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that food production will need to increase by 70 percent to meet 2050 demand. As a result, companies and countries are continually identifying methods to secure food resources as well as improve production efficiency. Such technologies range from the radical, such as vertical urban farms that grow food in a setting more similar to a laboratory than an open field, to the more practical such as technology-enabled agricultural machinery that utilizes GPS and big data to further enhance production yield. The line between agricultural and information technology company will continue to blur as market disruptors bring robotics, machine learning, and augmented reality to the farm and pasture.


In 2016, almost 2,500 workers were employed in the Agriculture and Animal Health sector representing approximately 3.3 percent of total regional employment. It is important to note, however, that this total employment figure does not include jobs housed within the region’s public sector research institutions.

Agriculture and Animal Health experienced strong recent growth in Greater Manhattan. From 2006 to 2016, regional employment in the target sector (20.9 percent) outpaced the growth rate for the target sector nationally (9.9 percent) by a wide margin. If these growth trends continue, Agriculture and Animal Health activity could enjoy greater agglomeration benefits as agricultural suppliers and animal health services companies enter the region to tap new customer bases.

Several key Manhattan Area Agriculture and Animal Health subsectors show strong employment concentrations, denoted by a location quotient greater than 1.0. Crop production (30 percent more concentrated than the national average), animal production (50 percent), support activities for animal production (7.7 times), and farm product raw material wholesaling (5.3 times) are especially notable in the region. Proximity to advanced agricultural research services and/or plentiful, productive farmland are factors that could yield a competitive advantage relative to other locations.

State government employment within the target sector is primarily focused on regulation of agricultural operations and promotion of agricultural products throughout the state of Kansas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 195 workers were employed in public sector agricultural market and commodity regulation activities in 2015.

Agriculture and Animal Health firms exported $290,185,651 in goods and services in 2016.This was second to only Small to Medium Enterprises among the proposed Greater Manhattan target sectors. Because this figure excludes state government agricultural service exports, the export number is likely higher than the reported amount.


Greater Manhattan features 3,242 workers employed in occupations supportive of the Agriculture and Animal Health sector. This occupational set grew 21.6 percent from 2006 to 2016 compared to 5.6 percent at the national level. These trends demonstrate that Greater Manhattan has a strong and growing workforce for Agriculture and Animal Health employers that can likely serve as an attractor for outside firms if continued expansion can offset projected future shortages.

Talent production in the Manhattan region could offset future workforce shortages among occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree education. Kansas State University offers a wide array of agricultural degrees through the College of Agriculture and College of Veterinary Medicine. Majors range from undergraduate programs in agribusiness to advanced degrees in food science and agricultural engineering. Retaining this graduate pool of Agriculture and Animal Health talent will be crucial if the region is to support private sector animal health research and development.