A new plant capable of processing more than 40 million bushels of soybeans annually, increasing the state’s total soy processing capacity to more than 50 million bushels per year, is planned for Ithaca.
Officials with ZFS Ithaca LLC, an affiliate of Zeeland Farm Services Inc., announced plans for the plant, which they’re calling a “major new investment,” in early October. The announcement came soon after Zeeland Farm Services celebrated the 20th anniversary of Michigan’s first soybean processing plant, according to a company news release.
“We are not building and sizing the facility for today, but for tomorrow. This is a long-term, 40- or 50-year investment in Michigan agriculture,” Cliff Meeuwsen, president of ZFS Ithaca, said in a statement.
“We are building a legacy plant that will fulfill all of Michigan’s soybean processing needs for generations.”
The new facility is to be located on a 435-acre site in Ithaca, which is located in Gratiot County and about 30 miles south of Mount Pleasant. It will be built and operated by ZFS Ithaca. Construction is to begin this year and the plant is expected to be operational in late 2018 or 2019, according to officials.
The project is contingent upon permits, incentives and other approvals.
Initially, the ZFS Ithaca plant will include grain receiving and storage, soybean processing and feed ingredients transloading. Officials say it “will be sized to meet the soy processing and soybean meal needs in Michigan for the next generation and beyond.”
The project is expected to create about 75 full-time jobs and help bring road and utility upgrades to aid in future development in Gratiot County, the release states.
Gary Brower, assistant marketing manager, said these jobs will include positions in management, operations and transportation. Some positions are open now and job seekers can apply online at www.zfsinc.com. He said “compensation will be competitive with the prevailing wages in the area and within the industry.”
Brower said the project is estimated to cost $130 million.
“This announcement is the latest example of the leadership and vision ZFS has always offered Michigan agriculture. Their commitment to growth and providing services and opportunities to Michigan farmers and businesses is well know, and their investment in Ithaca reflects that commitment,” Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said in a statement.
“Just like the first soy processing plant in Zeeland that has been in operation for two decades, the new facility in Ithaca will boost local soybean prices for Michigan farmers, serve as a convenient, reliable source of soybean meal and hulls for livestock producers and allow Michigan’s agriculture sector to tap into growing markets at home and abroad for soy products.”
In a statement, Gail Frahm, executive director of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, said “This processing plant is a win for everyone involved.”
“Livestock, poultry and aquaculture farmers will greatly benefit from having additional Michigan-grown soybean meal available to their industries. Also, soybean farmers will enjoy additional opportunities to provide soybean oil for the human consumption and industrial use markets,” Frahm said in the statement.
For this project, ZFS Ithaca has partnered with Greater Gratiot Development Inc., the city of Ithaca, Gratiot County, Gratiot County Road Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Economic Development Corp.