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Published May 19, 2009, 08:06 AM

Pea processing plant planned

A new pea and lentil processing facility could be running this summer near Granville. The Granville Economic Development Corp. is asking Minot’s economic development fund for $19,500 in interest buydown money on a Bank of North Dakota PACE loan for Simcoe Grain Processors. The Minot fund’s screening committee meets Friday to discuss the application.

GRANVILLE, N.D. (AP) — A new pea and lentil processing facility could be running this summer near Granville.

The Granville Economic Development Corp. is asking Minot’s economic development fund for $19,500 in interest buydown money on a Bank of North Dakota PACE loan for Simcoe Grain Processors. The Minot fund’s screening committee meets Friday to discuss the application.

The processing center would be in Simcoe, on the Burlington Northern rail line about 22 miles east of Minot and about 10 miles south of Granville.

Mark Kok of Plaza and Nathan Smith of Sawyer are the leaders of 21st Century Ag Investments, which operates the Simcoe plant.

Smith and Kok are looking to hire a manager and two line workers to begin operations by summer. They expect to have five employees by the third year of operation.

Information given to Minot’s economic development fund says Simcoe Grain Processors will specialize in peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans, with the capability of processing 4,000 bushels daily or 1.2 million bushels a year.

The facility has a 150,000-bushel elevator and adjacent steel building. Its operators plan to process 600,000 bushels of peas in the first year and to reach 1 million bushels by the third year of operation, with sales to domestic and international markets. The business also would distribute crop seed to area producers.

Smith purchased the Simcoe elevator in 2007, from SunPrairie Grain.

“It was an older facility. The last 10 years it wasn’t used much and was basically neglected. We are bringing it back up to the condition it should be in,” Smith said. “Old elevators are really well built. If you take care of them, they will last a really long time.”

North Dakota ranks first in the production of edible peas, a crop that continues to grow in popularity with producers.

The application to the Minot fund cites federal Agriculture Department figures showing an estimated 520,000 acres of peas were grown in North Dakota in 2008. This year’s total is estimated at 570,000 acres.

“There’s definitely a market here. There’s plenty of room for expansion,” Smith said.

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