May 31, 2004



US Soybean Crushing Plant Proposal Moving Forward

Officials in northeastern North Dakota are moving forward with plans for a soybean crushing plant, eyeing a big market for soybean meal across the Canadian border.


"There're seven million pigs in Manitoba," said Grand Forks farmer Paul Sproule, who is leading the project. "Last year, Manitoba imported 254,000 metric tons of soybean meal feed. That equates to 30 semis a day going across into Manitoba to feed their pigs."


Sproule is getting a $52,500 grant from the state Agricultural Products Utilization Commission for a feasibility study on a plant. APUC provides grants to developers of North Dakota farm products.


Sproule said he will pool the money with $15,000 from the North Dakota Soybean Council and $10,000 of his own cash to pay for the study, which he hopes will be done by fall.


"If (a plant) is feasible, I hope by this time next year we're under construction," he said.


The effort began early last year when the Pembina County Job Development Authority approached APUC about a $20,000 grant for a study of a $3 million plant. Officials later withdrew the request while they monitored the progress of a plant in Winkler, Manitoba, about 15 miles north of Walhalla.


ulius Wangler, who oversees the Job Development Authority as director of the Grafton-based Red River Regional Council, said officials toured the Winkler plant in late December.


Sproule, who was part of the tour group, said the study will determine what form the North Dakota venture should take if it is feasible. Details such as ownership, capacity and location have not yet been addressed.


Wangler said the Job Development Authority is not providing financial support but will monitor the study. Money for the study is being handled through a bank account the regional council manages.


"If it shows that a soybean processing plant might have some potential, we would definitely like to have it located in Pembina County," Wangler said. "We would use some of the resources of the JDA to make that happen."


Soybean production in North Dakota has boomed in recent years as the crop has provided good returns for growers. Farmers harvested a record crop of nearly 88 million bushels last year. Ten years prior, production was less than 10 million bushels.


Acres this year are projected at a record 3.7 million, up from 3.2 million last year, according to the Agriculture Department.


Soybeans are crushed for cooking oil. Meal, a byproduct of the crushing process, is sold as livestock feed. The Archer Daniels Midland plant in Enderlin is the only facility in the state that crushes soybeans.


"We export a lot of our product. We don't process much in North Dakota," Sproule said. "This would be an economic boon to North Dakota."