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North Dakota Soybean Processors break ground on Casselton plant

The $400 million North Dakota Soybean Processors plant at Casselton, North Dakota, is expected to crush 42.5 million bushels of soybeans in the first year and is a joint venture between the

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Steve O'Nan, right, president of North Dakota Soybean Processors, delivers remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for a soybean crushing plant on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Casselton, North Dakota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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CASSELTON, N.D. — As the North Dakota Soybean Processors broke ground on their $400 million crush plant, they say they are eager to provide a year-round market to soybean farmers in the region.

"I think one of the key benefits that it's going to bring to farmers in the area is it's going bring them a reliable soybean market. It's going to be there 12 months a year, not just during harvest," said Steve O'Nan, president of the North Dakota Soybean Processors. "In addition to that, the soybean farmers here won't have to rely on export activity to price their beans. We're going to be a buyer year-round."

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Steve O'Nan of North Dakota Soybean Processors talks with Amy McBeth of BNSF Railway on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the soybean crushing plant at Casselton, North Dakota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

O'Nan's comments came after a morning of ceremonial shoveling at the site of the crush plant west of Casselton, with North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and the state's two U.S. senators among those on the program in the auditorium at Central Cass Schools. Heavy machinery is already moving dirt at the construction site. North Dakota Soybean Processors, a joint venture between Minnesota Soybean Processors and Louisiana-based CGB Enterprises, expects to be up and running in 2024 but will likely start buying soybeans before that.

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, third from left, and North Dakota Soybean Processors President Steve O'Nan, fourth from right, were among those shoveling dirt on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in a ceremonial groundbreaking for a soybean crushing plant at Casselton, North Dakota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

Cass County is one of the top soybean producing counties in the country and the plant at Casselton is expected to draw soybeans from about a 60 mile radius, including into northwest Minnesota.

The plant, which is expected to crush 42.5 million bushels of soybeans in the first year, won't just be buying from farmers, but will be buying from grain elevators in the region as well.

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Scott White has been a senior adviser to Minnesota Soybean Processors, which is a farmer-owned cooperative at Brewster in southwest Minnesota, where a similar plant operates.

White said some grain elevators worry about the competition from the crush plant but he said it provides a market for them, too.

"The soy processor not only needs the producer but he needs the grain elevator badly because they provide services the processor doesn't do," White said.

North Dakota Soybean Processors is not being set up as a separate cooperative, but farmers can buy shares in the Minnesota Soybean Processors co-op.

The plant is expected to provide 50-60 jobs and produce food-grade soybean oil and meal. The oil could go into the food industry or be turned into renewable fuel. The meal will most likely be used to feed livestock. While North Dakota doesn't have a large livestock industry to use the soybean meal, it could find a market in other states, Canada, Mexico or for export through ports in the Pacific Northwest.

North Dakota had largely relied on exports through the Pacific Northwest to market unprocessed soybeans in the past, but fluctuating global markets and trade policies at times hurt producers.

The plant is poised to be North Dakota’s second large-scale crush plant. The Green Bison crush plant led by ADM broke ground earlier this year at Spiritwood near Jamestown.

Burgum in his comments said the state needs to make use of the soybean meal the crush plants will provide through livestock.

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"We have killed animal agriculture in our state through red-tape regulations that restrict farmers," Burgum said. "We have to get stronger in animal agriculture."

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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