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County approves Casselton road for possible new soybean plant

Developer has not yet announced final decision on constructing facility.

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Lower yields in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Kansas account for most of the change in soybean production in the November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. The eastern Corn Belt has received too much rain, which has shaved off bushels in key production areas due to shattering losses. Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC

FARGO — Cass County commissioners voted unanimously on Monday, Dec. 6, to split the cost for a new two-mile concrete road to a possible new soybean crushing plant just west of Casselton.

The county would share the cost for the road that could cost up to $3 million with the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Any costs above $3 million for railroad crossings or intersection improvements would be paid by Harvest Group LLC, the developer of the proposed project.

No final decision has been reached on the construction of the plant that would be built east of the Tharaldson Ethanol plant. However, the developer wanted assurance the county would assist with the road project.

County Highway Engineer Jason Benson said the road would be designed for a 50-year life with a 10.5-inch concrete base and would likely not be constructed until 2023.

He said the roadways to the site, currently gravel and maintained by a township, would connect to County Road 23 and the Lynchburg and Interstate 94 interchange.

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The expected traffic to the facility would be 200-300 trucks a day, according to Benson, with a maximum capacity of 600 trucks during harvest season.

Commissioners said they didn't know anything about the developer as there has been a nondisclosure agreement in place.

The North Dakota Department of Commerce has been the major player involved in discussions with the company that would build the $400 million plant that could create up to 60 jobs with average pay of $32 an hour.

Commissioner Chad Peterson wondered if the county would be asked to participate in any property tax incentives for the project. He said if they did, the county board should consider counting the road construction as part of any tax break.

Peterson also wondered if a traffic flow study shouldn't be done in the area with the two busy ag plants.

Benson suggested there be a staging area for any trucks in the area.

The state has been working on the possible plant since August with consultants for the developer.

It's been praised for the extra value it could be to regional soybean farmers. Cass County has been a leader in soybean production in the nation.

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The plant is not thought to be a major competitor with a new Archer Daniels Midland soybean crushing plant and refinery announced for Spiritwood, about 70 miles to the west of Casselton.

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