U.S. Soy Processors Build New Capacity at Fastest Rate in 20 Years

U.S. agricultural cooperatives are building new soybean crushing plants at the fastest rate in two decades as farmers in the world’s top producer prepare to sow another record area with soy.

 The growth worldwide in the number of consumers with income to spend on pork and chicken has led to a rapid rise in demand for food to raise animals. Crushing plants produce high-protein soymeal feed for livestock and soyoil for food and fuel.U.S. processors are expected to open plants with capacity to process at least 120 million bushels of soybeans in 2019, up around 5 percent from existing capacity of an estimated 1.9 billion bushels.

The last time outright capacity grew that much was in 1997-98, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture and soy industry data.

Strong demand for feed has boosted crushing margins, the measure of profitability for the plants. Margins stand at more than a $1 per bushel, the strongest for 18 months, according to the CME Group.

The margins have encouraged processors to build more plants.

“Margins on soybean processing were very good, some of the best we’ve had in many years. And when the industry has good margins, you expand production,” said Mark Sandeen, vice president of product marketing at farmer cooperative Ag Processing Inc (AGP).

Growth in feed demand means crushing capacity worldwide will need to expand further.

Global soy production would have to increase by 20 percent over the next decade to keep up with feed consumption, said Tom Hammer, president of industry group National Oilseed Processing Association.

U.S. soy plantings totaled a record 90.2 million acres this year and the USDA in a preliminary forecast set plantings next year at 91.0 million acres. And while industry capacity could reach 2 billion bushels in under two years, the USDA said crushings likely will not reach that level until 2020-21.

AGP broke ground earlier this year on a new soy plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota, that will have annual capacity to process 40 million bushels.

Another cooperative, North Dakota Soybean Processors, planned to build a similarly sized facility for an estimated $287 million near the town of Spiritwood.

The plants will increase demand for local soybeans, potentially pushing up prices that farmers nearby will receive for their crops, and reducing transport costs.

Ryan Wagner, who grows soybeans about 50 miles away from the new soy plant in South Dakota, said the processor could add 10 to 15 cents to the local soybean price – an amount that might mean the difference between making or losing money.

Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures on Friday were $9.89-3/4 per bushel, down 2-1/4 cents.

“That basis will be nice but in the long run I think the greater economic impact will be the attraction of more opportunities for raising livestock because of the new supply of soybean meal,” Wagner said.

“We are already starting to see interest in our area for more pork and poultry production since the announcement.”

Family-owned Zeeland Farm Services plans to build the second plant in the state of Michigan with capacity of 40 million bushels, to open in 2019. The company built Michigan’s first soybean processor in 1996 in Zeeland.

The company will supply soybean meal to hog, turkey, dairy and aquaculture farms in Michigan and export both soymeal and soyoil, said Cliff Meeuwsen, president of Zeeland.

Due to a lack of processing plants in Michigan, much of the soybeans there are shipped to Ohio where merchant giants Archer Daniels Midland Co, Bunge Ltd and Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] have plants.

Soymeal then gets shipped back to Michigan to feed animals, raising costs.

 “We hope to cut those costs out, thereby raising the price of soybeans to producers and cutting the cost of feed and protein to livestock producers,” Zeeland’s Meeuwsen said.

Earlier this year Perdue Farms opened a processor with capacity for 17.5 million bushels in Pennsylvania, that state’s first large-scale soy crushing plant.

Many of the new facilities are in places outside the central U.S. Midwest soy belt, taking advantage of increased supplies from farmers in those areas that have switched to soybeans from less profitable crops such as wheat.

Grain handlers will increase their profits by building the plants, as the margins are bigger for crushing than they are for simply buying and shipping soybeans, said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soybean Transportation Coalition.

“The old adage is it’s better to export meat than (soy) meal and better to export meal than soybeans. You are always trying to export that higher-value product,” Steenhoek said.


American Soybean Association Board Elects John Heisdorffer as President

John Heisdorffer of Keota, Iowa, will serve as the 2018 president of the American Soybean Association, following a vote of the ASA board this morning in St. Louis.

Heisdorffer raises soybeans, corn and hogs with his wife, Deanna and son Chris.

“There is a so much facing the soybean industry today, and I am very aware of the responsibility that this position carries with it.

“For the first time in history, American farmers harvested more acres of soybeans than any other crop.

“We are a leading voice in the ongoing dialogue on food and farming, and as a leader, it’s our duty to stay engaged and stay passionate on the issues that affect soybean farmers every day.

“Whether that’s trade or biotechnology or regulation, there is plenty to be done. I am excited to get to work, and I look forward to leading this wonderful organization in the coming year.”

Heisdorffer replaces Illinois’ Ron Moore as president, and Moore will move to the role of ASA Chairman.

Former Chairman Richard Wilkins of Delaware rotates off the nine-member ASA Governing Committee.

The ASA Board also elected Davie Stephens to serve as Vice President, a position that places him in line to serve as the association’s president in 2019.

Stephens lives in Clinton, Ky., and farms in Kentucky and Tennessee with his wife Judy and his father, raising soybeans, corn and poultry.

In addition to Heisdorffer, Moore and Stephens, the ASA board voted to elect Kevin Scott of South Dakota as Secretary; Bill Gordon of Minnesota for a second term as Treasurer; and Bret Davis of Ohio, Eric Maupin of Tennessee, Joe Steinkamp of Indiana, and Charles Atkinson of Kansas as at-large Governing Committee members.

New members beginning their nine-year terms on the ASA board are Dennis Fujan of Nebraska; Josh Gackle of North Dakota; Jered Hooker of Illinois; Ryan Kirby of Louisiana; Alan Meadows of Tennessee; Scott Metzger of Ohio; Nick Moody of Virginia; Scott Persall of Canada; Caleb Ragland of Kentucky; Ronnie Russell of Missouri; and Brandon Wipf of South Dakota.

The new ASA Directors replace retiring directors Ed Erickson, Jr., of North Dakota; Bruce Hall of Virginia; Mark Huston of Canada; Jim Miller of Nebraska; Dave Poppens of South Dakota; Jeff Sollars of Ohio and Lawrence Sukalski of Minnesota.

CHS Closes Plants in Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota

A soy processing plant in Hutchinson has closed, costing 77 people their jobs.

CHS Inc. announced Friday that the Hutchinson plant was one of three it was closing as it moves out of soybean protein production.

The others were in Creston, Iowa, and its Innovation and Technology Center at Eagan, Minnesota. Spokeswoman Annette Degnan says a total of 144 employees at the three locations will be affected.

The Hutchinson News reports eligible employees will be paid through Jan. 30 and will be eligible for severance pay and outplacement assistance.

The company reported net income of $127.9 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, compared to net income of $424.2 million for fiscal 2016.

Rabobank: Grain and Oilseed Margins at Risk Due to High Freight Costs

Higher global freight rates are expected to have an increasing influence on grains & oilseed trade dynamics and trade flows in 2018 as the cost of dry-bulk sea freight increases. Rabobank anticipates the margins of grain & oilseed importers and exporters are at risk.

In its latest report “A Bigger World to Sail: Impact of Rising Freight Rates on Global Grains & Oilseed Trade,” Rabobank anticipates that increasing time charter rates as well as high bunker fuel costs will lead to higher freight costs in the coming years. As a result, Rabobank expects a shift in the movement of commodities worldwide with higher freight rates eroding the competitiveness of exports which come from farther afield.

Global dry bulk time charter rates and bunker fuel costs are expected to continue to stay strong in 2018 and 2019

The Baltic Dry Index – an indicator of global commodity freight costs – has increased almost 60% since January 2017 as additional supply of new bulk freight capacity has slowed. With demand growth for dry bulk capacity forecast to surpass supply growth of dry bulk capacity in the next two years, dry bulk time charter rates are forecasted to increase between 10% and 20% YOY in 2018 and 2019.

At the same time, crude oil prices have increased to their highest level in two years in 2017, appreciating to over USD 60/bbl (Brent Oil), making bunker fuel for vessels more expensive and adding to the rise in freight rates.

With more than 85 percent of global G&O trade (more specifically corn, wheat, soybeans, and soymeal) transported by dry bulk carriers, the higher freight costs will have increasing influence on G&O trade dynamics and trade flows in 2018-2019.

G&O exports from Australia to Asia to benefit, while more distant G&O exporters will face pressure.

With Asian countries being net importers of grains and oilseeds and relying heavily on dry bulk carriers to supply G&O products, G&O exporting countries closer to Asia, like Australia, stand to benefit while more distant G&O exporting regions like South America, US and Black Sea will see their competitiveness impacted as freight rates increase. To stay competitive, G&O exporters at a greater distance from their destination will need to reduce their G&O purchasing costs, supply chain costs and margins to trim their FOB price in order to remain competitive.

Asia to face higher G&O import costs

With Asian countries importing a total of 242.5 million metric tons in grains and oilseeds in 2016, Asian countries rely heavily on dry bulk carriers to supply their G&O products from South America, US, and Black Sea.

Increased freight rates will drive up the landed costs of G&O imports such as wheat and soybean to Asia, resulting in higher ‘cost of goods sold’.

Faced with higher freight rates, both G&O exporters and importers should position themselves to preserve their margins. There are a number of strategic options for them to do this, such as choosing an appropriate shipping strategy, improving supply chain efficiency and choosing an appropriate origination and procurement strategy.

Consumers should be ready to face increasing food prices.

Importers may also opt to pass the rising freight costs to customers, which will result in increased food prices.  According to FAO’s latest “Food Outlook – Biannual Report on Global Food Markets, November 2017” report, the cost of importing food is set to rise in 2017 to USD 1.213 trillion, a 6 percent increase from the previous year and the second highest tally on record.  Consumers should be ready to face increasing food prices.

You can find the report here.

ZFS Ithaca LLC Announces Plan for Soybean Processing Plant in Ithaca, MI

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.

Pipeline Foods Expands Missouri Soybean Facility, to Add St. Louis Office

Pipeline Foods, a Minneapolis-based company focused on non-GMO and organic food and feed, is adding a regional office in St. Louis as part of its expansion in the Midwest.

Pipeline Foods, a supply chain solutions company, plans to open the St. Louis office by the end of the year. It will be led by Wade Ellis, director of food and ingredients.

“We will expand the portfolio of value-added services and drive a clearer path from farmers to food companies in support of growing consumer demand,” Ellis said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Pipeline Foods acquired Malden Specialty Soy, a specialty processing facility in southeastern Missouri. The company is investing in infrastructure and new equipment to double the capacity at the Malden facility.

The Malden facility will be an anchor for Pipeline Foods’ food and ingredient division, producing organic and non-GMO soybean meal as well as mechanical expeller-pressed oils.

Pipeline Foods announced in September that it planned to invest between $300 million and $500 million in the non-GMO, organic food and feed sector over the next three to five years.

The Golden Crop: The Story for Canola Keeps Getting Better

Canola is king across Alberta — and there’s no reason to think it won’t have a long and healthy reign.

“Canola offers a leading and consistent mix of superior agronomics and strong demand,” said Greg Kostal, president of Kostal Ag Consulting.

“Yeah, it has its ups and downs, and there’s little micro-reasons for it. But if you filter out all the noise, there’s a growing demand.”

The market for Canadian canola is on the rise, while demand for wheat for human consumption is “relatively flat,” growing only as incomes and populations grow.

“If our (canola) crop were one million or two million tonnes bigger, I wouldn’t have a problem finding a demand slot for it,” said Kostal.

“That doesn’t mean prices need to giddy-up and go, but we’re almost in a position at a 21-million-tonne crop size threshold where more canola is not more price negative. It just caps how high we go.”

A visit to any crush plant shows just how strong demand is.

In mid-October, Canadian canola crushers were processing near-record levels of the oilseed, topping out at 204,820 tonnes — only a little short of the 208,268-tonne weekly record set in March. And that happened even as margins were $40 a tonne lower than year-ago levels.

“I think that’s a strong testament to the companies involved feeling confident that not only is off-shore demand strong, but also there is a consistent push to provide the supply,” said Kostal.

While the crop’s profitability is obviously its biggest attraction for growers, strong and consistent demand is another big plus.

“Farmers depend on it for a big chunk of their income,” said John Guelly, who farms near Westlock.

“It’s a really handy crop — it’s very liquidable when you need some cash flow. It’s pretty easy to just pick up the phone, sell some, deliver it, and pick up a cheque.”

Industry investment in crush plants over the past five years has helped with that, Guelly added. “We’ve got a lot of domestic infrastructure in place. There are a lot of crush plants across Western Canada now.”

And, knock on wood, it may even get better.

China is starting to transition from soybean crushing to canola crushing, converting at least two — and possibly three — soy-crushing plants to process canola instead.

“You can’t talk about canola — or any markets, for that matter — without China,” said Kostal. “China has been a steady market, but that just opens the door for another incremental leap in canola.

“When you look at what China imports out of Canada, it has been consistently around four million tonnes for the last three years. That could catapult us to maybe five million tonnes.”

But China is just one potential growth market, Kostal added.

“As long as Canada has the export capacity to move it — which we have been — China is just one demand growth variable that sits very well with the Canola Council of Canada’s 2025 target of 26 million tonnes,” he said.

“Where China can come and swing a big bat, all these other little places take 50,000 tonnes or 100,000 tonnes here and there. It all adds up.”

Kostal also sees possibilities for more canola going into the U.S. biofuel sector, although for Guelly, the biodiesel market is “a tough one.”

“One never knows these days what the Americans are going to do,” he said. “I’m not sure that the growth of biodiesel in Canada is necessarily going to get much larger than it is now. It has its place, and I think it’s holding its own. But what the Americans do probably has a much larger effect on it than what Canada does.”

And there will be “speed bumps and hurdles” in the canola market, said Kostal.

“I’m not concerned, but you can’t just put the blinders on and think everything is going to be good forever. You do have some of these hiccups you have to contend with.”

Even in growing markets, supply and demand don’t move in unison, he said, and gyrations in both palm and soyoil markets affect canola.

But Guelly, too, sees canola’s Cinderella tale continuing to get better.

“Canola oil certainly has room for growth,” he said. “There’s a lot of other countries out there that are still not using as much canola oil as they could. So market-wise, I think there’s a lot more opportunity out there.”

Grower Eyes Grant to Build New York Soybean Processing Plant

Todd DuMond’s goal to establish a soybean processing plant on his Fleming, NY farm may soon bear fruit.

DuMond’s operation has applied for a $655,000 grant from Empire State Development, an offshoot of the state’s Division of Commerce. Because of the 20 jobs that would be created, the business would also receive $224,000 in tax credits.

DuMond wants his proposed $3.27 million plant to make soybean meal and oil because he believes it’s needed in New York. Presently, farmers must send their soybeans out of state for processing. Farmers must buy feed shipped into the state, which adds more expense. A nearby soybean processing plant would save on those expenses, he said.

 Processing soybeans in central New York would place the soybean meal where it’s needed.

“We have a big demand for feed with all the dairies, especially in Cayuga County,” DuMond said. “I have a good relationship with many dairies.

“The impetus for this year is I’ve added staff and have a greater ability to do it at this point. We have the location and facility to make it happen,” he said.

DuMond said that his project has been prioritized but he won’t know whether he’ll receive the grant until December.

“There are a lot of good projects,” he said.

The proposed processing plant would make animal feed. He also plans to generate biodiesel, another product largely imported from other states to New York.

“It would be great to develop the market in upstate,” he said. “If I can grow to the size and scale I imagine, we could process up to 50 percent of New York’s soybeans within three years.”

DuMond said the facility would be about 6,000 to 10,000 square feet, plus extra space for grain storage and dryers. He said he is leaning toward purchasing equipment from Indiana-based InstaPro because he wants consistency in heat while processing.

If all goes well, it should take about a year for the facility to open, he said.

DuMond’s parents, Eric and Marge DuMond, started the farm in 1980. After Todd DuMond finished his education and returned to the farm in 2003, he assumed ownership of DuMond Farms LLC.

The farm began roasting soybeans that same year, an operation that became known as DuMond Grain LLC. Eventually, Todd DuMond began purchasing other farms’ grain to process and resell.

DuMond Farms grows 1,300 acres of soybeans and has 7,000 acres of total farmland, making it one of the largest soybean producers in Cayuga County.

Land stewardship is big on the farm, as evidenced by the farm’s use of filtration strips, permanent waterways, high-resolution/sub-surface drainage, high-flow surface water catch basins, poly-culture cover crops, crop rotation, narrow row spacing, reduced tillage, and optimal nutrient application through timing, and placement.

 The farm’s goal is year-round ground cover and no-till farming, using primarily organic nutrient management. DuMond also operates equipment using biodiesel.

After seven years of grain roasting, the DuMonds founded DuMond Trucking LLC to make transporting grain easier.

Two years ago, the farm began grinding corn.

Todd DuMond also sells cover crop seed as a Center Seed dealer.

He has served on the American Soybean Association’s board of directors since 2011.

He also grows corn, wheat and alfalfa rye.

The New York State Agricultural Society lauded him as the Next Generation Farmer of the Year in 2015.

MPSG Supports Efforts to Bring a Soybean Processing Plant to Manitoba

Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) supports efforts to attract a soybean-crushing plant to Manitoba, but is neutral on where it’s built, says association executive director Francois Labelle.

“We want to see a facility built in Manitoba,” Labelle said in an interview Sept. 29. “That has been our position since we first started talking about this in 2014. We want to make sure Manitoba works together to make that happen. That’s what we need to have. There are different thoughts about how it should happen, but it’s really the builder that will decide (the location).”

The MPSG issued a news release last week with the same message, partly in response to rumours it has a preferred location.

Westman Opportunities Leadership Group (WOLG), which has the backing of the Keystone Agricultural Producers, MPSG and a number of municipalities, has been working for almost a year to build the case for a soybean-crushing plant in western Manitoba.

A Manitoba farmer tweeted Sept. 18 that he’d heard the MPSG board wanted a plant built in eastern Manitoba.

“OMG. Just build it! Help every MB farm’s basis!” the tweet read.

The rumour is wrong, Labelle said.

The MPSG represents all Manitoba’s pulse and soybean growers, chair Jason Voth said in a news release.

“The possibility of a crush plant is an encouraging topic and we’re working hard on the research and market development side to shed light on the correct path,” he said. “MPSG is sitting at the soybean crush table to make sure the plant gets built in Manitoba. We are not here to choose a specific location or take sides. We are involved because we have a deep understanding of the subject matter and are happy to share it.”

Even though soybean plantings and production have been growing dramatically in Manitoba more of both is needed to attract a plant, which would cost at least $400 million to build, Labelle said.

“I can’t expand on that enough,” he said. “Even though we are producing lots of soybeans we’re not in a position yet that somebody is going to jump out and build a plant.

“No company is going to buy all the beans, so you need a fair acreage.

“I think one of the things people miss is it’s not whether it’s going to be built in Brandon, or Portage or Winnipeg or Altona that really counts. It’s whether it will be built in Manitoba, whether it will be built in China, whether it will be built in Brazil. When you spend $400 million you’re going to look where you get your best return in the world.”

However, Manitoba does have some advantages, including the demand for soybean meal from its hog producers, Labelle added.

In June the MPSG held a seminar “to deliver industry knowledge and expertise” to groups interested in a Manitoba soybean facility,” the MPSG said in its release.

The WOLG, agriculture consultant Mark Rowe and Manitoba Agriculture officials attended. Rowe had information on plant operating costs, energy demands and the high volume of processing required to be profitable.

“To go from a 2,000-tonne (a day crush) plant to a 3,000 it’s in the $10- to $15-a-tonne margin improvement,” Labelle said.

A proposed North Dakota soybean plant will crush 3,400 tonnes a day (1.24 million tonnes a year operating at full capacity), which is considered small. A 5,000-tonne-a-day plant is being built in Brazil, he added.

Earlier this year Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) estimated Manitoba farmers insured a record 2.3 million tonnes of soybeans. Assuming five-year average yields of 38 bushels an acre (1.02 tonnes an acre) that’s 2.3 million tonnes of production — not quite double the volume needed by a 3,400-tonne-a-day plant. But Manitoba soybean yields are expected to be slightly below average this year.

In May 2015 a study prepared for the MPSG and Soy 20/20 concluded Manitoba soybean production could sustain a 2,000-tonne-a-day soybean-crushing plant, in part because of poor and expensive rail service to export soybeans and import soybean meal.

Since then, rail service has improved and the grain industry hopes western Canadian-grown soybeans will be included under the maximum revenue entitlement, resulting in lower rail shipping costs.

Manitoba soybean plantings of just 18,419 acres in 2000, have exploded, increasing 125-fold.

Insured plantings nearly tripled in 2001 and increased again in 2002 and 2003, fell in 2004 and 2005, increased in 2006, fell in 2007 and since then have gone up every year.

Plantings this year were up 39 per cent from 2016’s record.

Last year average insured soybean yields in Manitoba set a record at 42 bushels an acre.

For many years soybeans have been Manitoba’s third-biggest crop behind canola and wheat, respectively. But MASC projects for the first time crop-insured soybean acres had exceeded insured acres of red spring wheat — MASC’s biggest wheat category, which covers varieties in the Canada Western Red Spring wheat class.

North Dakota Soybean Processors Plant Continues Planning

Organizers of the equity drive for the North Dakota Soybean Processors crushing plant planned for the Spiritwood Energy Park Association industrial park are pausing their efforts until the end of the month, according to Scott Austin, general manager of Minnesota Soybean Processors, the parent company of North Dakota Soybean Processors.

“We’re taking a bit of a hiatus because of the harvest,” he told the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Monday. “We’ve been working on other planning issues.”

Those planning issues have included work on the air quality permit from the North Dakota Department of Health and other permits needed for construction and operation of the plant.

Along with arranging financing for the plant, the company is working on forming strategic partnerships with companies in the soy oil industry, Austin said.

The planned soybean processing plant at Spiritwood has an estimated cost of $287 million. Minnesota Soybean Processors are investing $66 million, another $60 million is being sought from individual and institutional investors for the project, and the remaining $161 million will be financed with loans.

When completed, the plant will crush 42.5 million bushels of soybeans each year producing soy oil that can be used for biodiesel and soy meal used for livestock feed.

Austin said the project will still take 24 months from the time work starts until the end of construction. Work on the project could start as soon as the equity drive reaches its goal of $60 million.

The equity drive will continue in November when officials from North Dakota Soybean Processors return to this area to meet with potential investors.

In other business, the JSDC Board of Directors approved changes to the reports that must be filed by businesses receiving economic incentives. Corry Shevlin, JSDC business development manager, said the changes make the reports to the JSDC more consistent with reports the businesses must file with the Bank of North Dakota.