Since Brownfield's inception, cotton has reigned as king. "For many many years cotton has been the base of our economy, cotton and oil. But back in the late 70's the oil took a down turn," says Jack Cargill, City Director of Economy.
So many farmers turned to other crops, while the city turned to incarceration.
"We got into the prison expansion race in the late 80's and early 90's. And we were one of the first cities to build and own our own facility and lease it to the state. So we did that and then we were able to get another facility that the state owns and operates. So we own two private facilities, one is a probation and one is a parole facility, those are the two we own and lease out. Then we were fortunate enough to get a state owned facility," Cargill said.
These three facilities push Brownfield's economy, bringing in stable tax dollars, and employing about 250 people.
"That was the start of our change in economy as far as diversifying. The prisons were. And then peanuts came along and boosted our economy quite a lot and then most recently, Birdsong has built their new peanut shelling facility," Cargill said.
Peanuts started as a rotating crop, but now this area is the only region in the U.S. to grow all four types of peanuts. "At one point, this part of the South Plains was producing 75% of the exports of the United States. It works because we have good sandy soils which peanuts need. We have good quality growers that are intense managers of producing this crop," Justin Tuggle, Director of CropsDocs said.
Come fall a new crop is being 'hearded in'. A 2400 cow dairy is set to open for business. "We're making progress a little at a time and we're working hard at it as most towns are. But as you see my sign says business is good. We like to project that image and stay positive. We're proud of Brownfield," Cargill said.
Another economy trigger for Brownfield is that five highways come through here going every different direction. One of them leads to Hobbs, New Mexico. And with the new racetrack going up there, it might bring additional traffic through Brownfield giving the economy another boost.