Waupun could be home to Wisconsin’s first soybean crushing facility.
If approved, construction would begin in 2019 and the facility would open in 2020, processing up to 100,000 bushels of soybeans a day, a release from the city and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board said. Waupun and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board are jointly soliciting the facility’s development.
For Waupun, the $150 million facility would bring 39 full-time jobs and $2.2 million annually in estimated payroll, the release said.
A 65.5-acre location in Waupun Industrial Park has been selected as the potential site for the project following a feasibility study conducted by Frazier, Barnes & Associates, LLC.
The feasibility study looked at “where soybeans are grown and the logistics requirements needed to make the project work,” said Waupun City Administrator and Director of Economic Development Kathy Schlieve.
Farmers in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties produced 6.8 million bushels of beans in 2017, the release said. Within a 100-mile radius of the city, this number jumps to 62.5 million bushels.
Along with being located in “the heart of prime agricultural land,” the site is close to the U.S. 151 corridor, allowing for ease of transport, and has access to rail, Schlieve said.
While Wisconsin has 18,000 soybean farmers and ranks as the 12th largest soybean producer in the country, the state does not have a soybean crushing facility. Instead, soybeans are shipped elsewhere and must be transported back to farms once processed into soy protein, soy oil or “soy meal” used for animal feed, the release said.
Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board Executive Director Robert Karls said having an in-state facility would make sense and bring a benefit to farmers. Costs for farmers would be reduced, jobs kept in the state, and infrastructure wear and tear reduced, he said.
Schlieve said Waupun has been looking to diversify its “economic base with a project that can be a catalyst for future growth.”
“We have a strong focus on expanding value-added agriculture processing, and it was clear, after reviewing the analysis, that we have a strong match for our community,” Schlieve said.
In addition to helping soybean farmers, Schlieve said it could also develop business opportunities that support the processing, including businesses in logistic service sectors and construction, machinery and equipment manufacture, “other value-added processors” and local producers in the supply chain.
Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board filed an air permit with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which is needed for businesses that “emit pollutants to the atmosphere.” According to the DNR, it “protects public health and the environment by requiring that owners of operators comply with all applicable state and federal air regulations.”
Schlieve stated that “the proposed facility meets or exceeds all federal, state and local government requirements for emission.”
A draft of the permit is published by the DNR on its website. Those wishing to contribute commentary to the application can do so until July 11. A public hearing will be June 28.
The project will move forward with the issuance of a final permit from the DNR. Work to be done prior to construction includes engineering work, investment details, plan reviews and the creation of a tax increment financing district.