Fremont Business to Reach National Market

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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January 13, 2014 7:00 am  • 

A local farm operation that runs five generations deep is launching a new line of value-added products that it hopes to take nationwide in the coming year.

J.P. and David Rhea of Rhea Cattle Company are expanding the family business with the launch of Elkhorn Valley Animal Care, a new line of pet products that will be sold primarily in retail outlets.

J.P. Rhea said the family farm has a history of value-added agriculture dating back to its beginning in 1872 when his great-great grandfather raised Percheron draft horses. The farm was known for raising top-end work horses – raising a number of state champions.

That business model quickly changed with the mechanization of agriculture, said Rhea, and his grandfather adapted and became a pioneer in alfalfa processing in the 1940s.

Rhea said before good bailing technology alfalfa processing was a unique way to get high quality hay and forages to livestock producers. But over time and with the advent of better haying techniques, the alfalfa industry became less of a livestock commodity business and more of a specialty business.

Rhea said his father, Bill Sr., recognized the coming shift and the business restructured to become a bulk supplier of a specialty commodity.

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