BEATRICE – Preliminary approval has been given for a new agriculture business….a small mill that would process white sorghum into flour that is gluten-free.
The Gage County Planning Commission, on a 7-0 vote, has recommended county approval of the special use permit sought by Brad Dusenbery and Dusenbery Farms. The operation would be located on a fourth-generation, 103-year-old family farm in Holt Township, about four miles north of Beatrice.

Dusenbery researched his idea with the University of Nebraska Food Innovation Campus.  "Over the last year and a half, we've worked with them to come up with three products using all of our sorghum that we've raised in the last two years on our farm....actually on this farm, particularly."

Dusenbery says he is working with Mike and Pam Baumann on the project. It would include a new combination production facility and farm shop. "It will look like a seed dealer, basically. Eventually, if we can start producing enough we'll probably have a few bins that are direct feed into the building. Right now, we'll just feed it out of trucks."

The stone mill Dusenbery says the operation will use would produce about 400 to 600 pounds of flour …using less than ten bushels per hour. The Holt Township Board supports the project, by a letter to the planning commission.

"My whole goal is to make gluten-free products. if you go to the store now, they are very expensive. I'm trying to get it the other way, where you can put it on the shelf and be right next to wheat, and be somewhat comparable on the price."

White milo is naturally gluten-free. Dusenbery says finding the vertical stone mill equipment to process the gluten-free grain was a big task. "But, it's hard to get them. Very hard. You have hammer mills, you have roller have all of that. But it all depends on how fine you want it. You can do it in a roller mill and a stone mill. A hammer mill is fast, it produces a lot, but it's really course. We're going for a really fine flour....which is exactly what you would, for wheat."

The operation would use the whole grain. Dusenbery said initially, it would produce three-pound and five-pound resealable bags of gluten-free flour….and a 25-pound bag for commercial bakeries and institutions.

"One thing we found that there's a high demand for the institutions and all...because they've had problems with people getting sick. If you can have a flour or a food that's close to wheat, you can do that. I think we've finally developed it to where you won't tell the difference. Most people pick ours, over wheat."

The commission’s favorable recommendation now goes to the Gage County Board, which will conduct a public hearing on the permit application, March 20th (9:15 a.m.)  There was no public testimony given Thursday night at the commission’s public hearing on the permit application.