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The new tru Shrimp production “harbor” facility will be built on a half-section of farmland next to Interstate 90, just west of Luverne, Minn. The company will have four times the impact as the Gevo Inc. ethanol plant in the background. Photo taken Nov. 1, 2017, at Luverne, Minn. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Luverne, Minn., embraces shrimp enterprise

LUVERNE, Minn. — Southwest Minnesota is the home of cattle, hogs, corn and soybeans, but it's hopes for a trū Shrimp production enterprise that are perking up the economy.

Luverne, Minn., Mayor Patrick Baustian (pronounced BOSH chen) says the addition of a hatchery to an already impressive "harbor," or production facility, was welcome news.

trū Shrimp is a division of Ralco Animal Nutrition, based in the Marshall, Minn., area. The companies announced at the beginning of November that they'll employ about 75 to 100 employees in Luverne, starting in a year and a half. Luverne is about 35 miles east of Sioux Falls, S.D.

"The harbor will bring an additional 20 jobs to our community, and the 42,000 square-foot facility will be valued at constructed value of $12 million to $14 million," Baustian says.

Along with a company-owned wastewater treatment facility, the three facilities will account for $100 million in construction, Baustian says. The wastewater facility, needed to process effluent saltwater with high protein content used in shrimp production, will employ six to eight workers.

New world

Baustian has been on the city council eight years and is in his fourth term as mayor. "I never ever believed something like this would happen," he says.

One of the keys to the project has been success after 25 years of effort to acquire water from the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System from the Missouri River.

The community was hooked up a year ago. The town is situated on a "bathtub of granite rock 100 feet down and a clay bowl," and its natural water supply is high in manganese and iron.

"It isn't as much water as the IBP plant used to have, but to have access to quality water in the volumes that we do have now made it possible to even entertain this idea of housing a shrimp harbor and a shrimp hatchery," Baustain says, referring to the former beef processing plant in Luverne.

Baustian credits Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton as well as area legislators for helping to make the Lewis & Clark supply available to Minnesota and to make up for the shortfalls of federal funding. The state invested $40 million over the past five years, to be paid back by federal funding. The water is hooked into the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System. It will also serve Worthington, Minn., and will go south to Sibley, Iowa.

Stronger ag

Baustian grew up on a farm about 10 miles northwest of Luverne. He was one of seven children on a farm that raised hogs and cattle. One of two boys, in 1981 he faced 18 percent farm loan interest rates, so instead of farming he went into the active Air Force. After five years, farming still was tough so he joined the South Dakota Air National Guard, where he's been in the military for 36 years in active duty. His brother still is a farmer and the mayor of Jasper, Minn. He is a chief master sergeant and information technology supervisor.

Baustian strives to add business diversity to the community.

"Adding value to the commodities our farmers produce" is important, he says, noting that shrimp feed includes corn, soybeans and hard red wheat.

"They figure that the corn will add a nickel a bushel and the soybeans a dime a bushel," he says. "When our farmers are healthy our mainstreet is healthy."

Luverne has strong agriculture and ag commodity businesses. It has CHS Inc., having an elevator terminal, as well as New Vision Systems. It has Luverne Farm Store Inc. and Gevo Inc. ethanol plant, but the trū Shrimp enterprise will be nearly four times larger.

Luverne has hosted a Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant, but that company announced recently it would be closing the plant effective Dec. 29, 2017. The poultry plant has 200 employees who have been offered relocation in the company or associated companies. Not all of those workers live in Luverne, Baustian says, adding that he is optimistic that facility will have a new use.

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