$400 million soybean crushing plant in works for Casselton

The plant is planned to go west of Casselton and east of the Tharaldson Ethanol plant, Josh Teigen, director of the Commerce department’s Economic Development and Finance division, told the board on Sept. 20.

Teigen declined to name the company involved Friday, Sept. 24, when contacted by email for this story. Teigen said the state has been working for about a month with consultants who are bound by non-disclosure agreements to not name the organization.

The plant is supposed to create 60 new jobs, paying an average of $32 per hour, the board was told.

Infrastructure issues are still being resolved, among them, the need to improve roads to handle heavy truck traffic and the plant’s requirement of about 900,000 gallons of water a day.

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“There are many moving pieces on this,” Teigen said in his email. “There are some gravel roads in the area that may need to be upgraded to solid surface in order to accommodate the number of trucks required to feed the facility. Who pays for these roads and maintains them moving forward is to be determined at this point.”

Up to 4 miles of existing township roads would need to be paved to handle 250 trucks a day and up to 600 trucks per day during the harvest season, the board was told.

Melissa Beach, the community and economic development director for Casselton, said the state is now putting together an economic impact assessment of the project.

She said the plant should bring in extra value for the crops of regional farmers, and boost the city’s tax base.

She said a soybean plant going up in Spiritwood, North Dakota, should not have a significant impact on profitability for the Casselton-area plant, particularly since a plant here would be attractive to Minnesota farmers looking for a place to sell their soybeans.

“We don’t feel it’s a real issue,” Beach said Thursday, Sept. 23

Plans for the plant are “in the very, very early stage,” Beach said, adding “There are several hurdles to overcome first.”

Beach said the company hasn’t asked for any economic incentives “nor has anything been discussed,” though the state may offer financial incentives.

Beach said the roads leading to the plant would probably have to be converted to strong concrete roads, much like County Highway 23, which serves Tharaldson Ethanol.

Nancy Johnson, executive director at North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, said Thursday that the plant would be important in adding value to soybeans for area farmers.

“It will just be very significant for the soybean farmers of North Dakota,” Johnson said.

North Dakota has about 7.25 million acres planted in soybeans, and production has been about 200 million bushels a year in recent years. In fact, Cass County has been a leader in soybean production in the nation, Johnson said.

In May of this year, Archer Daniels Midland announced that it would build a $350 million soybean crushing plant and refinery in Spiritwood. The plant is expected to employ about 75 people and is being designed to process about 600 million pounds of refined soybean oil annually, Agweek reported in late August.

Agweek reported that that plant will be operated as a joint venture with Marathon Petroleum Corp. with the aim of producing renewable diesel fuel.

ADM will own 75% of the plant, and Marathon 25%.

Plans call for 100% of the soy oil produced at the plant to be processed at Marathon’s renewable diesel-fuel facility in Dickinson, North Dakota.