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ADM soybean plant in North Dakota plans to bid on 2023 crop later this year

The project, headed by Archer Daniels Midland, is on time and on budget at the Spiritwood Energy Park east of Jamestown, said Mike Keller, vice president at ADM.

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Mike Keller, vice president of Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, center, said work at Green Bison Soy Processing plant at Spiritwood Energy Park Association is on time and one budget, with plans to begin processing in fall 2023. At left is Jeff Zueger, CEO of Midwest Ag Energy and at right is Connie Ova, CEO of Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and COO of Spiritwood Energy Park Association. Photo taken in Jamestown, North Dakota, on Jan. 13, 2022. John Steiner / Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Green Bison Soy Processing plans to start bidding on 2023 soybeans by the third or fourth quarter of 2022 and processing by fall 2023.

The project, headed by Archer Daniels Midland, is on time and on budget at the Spiritwood Energy Park Association east of Jamestown, said Mike Keller, vice president at ADM.

Keller spoke Thursday, Jan. 13, on a panel at the Winter Ag & Construction Expo at the Jamestown Civic Center about the soy processing facility, which will be a 75%-25% venture between ADM and Marathon Petroleum Corp., respectively.

Joining Keller on the panel were Connie Ova, CEO of Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and COO of Spiritwood Energy Park Association; Glenn Hauck, plant manager at Great River Energy; and Jeff Zueger, Midwest Ag Energy CEO.

ADM in May 2021 announced plans to turn the old Cargill malt plant at Spiritwood into North Dakota's first dedicated soybean processing facility. The facility plans to process 150,000 bushels per day of soybeans into oil, meal and fiber. The oil will be refined and bleached, with 100% sent to the Marathon refinery in Dickinson, North Dakota, to be further refined into renewable diesel. The meal and fiber will be for livestock feed; some of those feed products will be sold locally while, at least at first, Keller anticipates much being exported to Asia.

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ADM was not the first company interested in building a soybean processing facility at the Spiritwood Energy Park. Minnesota Soybean Producers had planned to construct a crushing plant at the Spiritwood location. That agreement was voided after Minnesota Soybean Producers failed to arrange financing.

Ova told the crowd of about 40 that she could not reveal who approached who regarding ADM building the plant at Spiritwood. That, she said, would be "telling secrets." However, she said her organizations were "thrilled" to have ADM on board, in particular because of concerns the former malt plant would turn into a "rat trap" if unused.

Keller also couldn't speak to the issue of who approached who, but he said ADM has long been committed to doing business in North Dakota. The company also runs or has partnerships in elevators throughout the state, as well as processing facilities in Enderlin and Velva.

Minnesota Soybean Processors still plan to put a processing plant in North Dakota and in December announced plans for a partnership with CGB Industries for a plant in Casselton, North Dakota. That plant would open in 2024 and process 42.5 million bushels of soybeans in the first year, the companies said.

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A large crane is used in the demolition process of a portion of the former Cargil Malting Plant at Spiritwood. The site will be the future home of a soybean processing plant. John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Keller said ADM believes the Spiritwood plant will source most of its soybeans from within 60 miles. North Dakota, he said, produces about 200 million bushels of soybeans a year, to say nothing of surrounding states. Historically, nearly all of those soybeans were exported through the Pacific Northwest to Asia.

The ADM plant will provide a consistent local demand for North Dakota soybeans, Keller said. He couldn't speak to what that may do for basis levels, but he said the plant will unload 40 truckloads an hour during busy times.

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While demolition at the Cargill plant is well underway, with new construction to follow, Keller said there are still logistics to work out. ADM has been in talks with BNSF Railway about logistics of moving products out and the possibility of sometimes needing to haul soybeans in. Zueger also said Great River Energy is in negotiations with ADM about a steam contract.

Ova said the North Dakota Department of Transportation has done some studies regarding increased traffic in the area of Spiritwood Energy Park. Those efforts still are preliminary and need more consultation with the local community, she said.

Carbon focus

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Jeff Zueger, CEO of Midwest Ag Energy, left, said research for carbon sequestration efforts at Dakota Spirit Ag Energy are underway. Center is Mike Keller, vice president of Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, and at right is Connie Ova, CEO of Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation and COO of Spiritwood Energy Park Association. Photo taken in Jamestown, North Dakota, on Jan. 13, 2022. John Steiner / Jamestown Sun

While the focus of the panel was on the Green Bison facility, carbon sequestration and reduction also got plenty of discussion.

Zueger spoke about carbon sequestration plans at the Dakota Spirit Ag Energy ethanol plant at Jamestown, which Midwest Ag Energy hopes will help in their goal of producing zero carbon fuel. And Hauck spoke of Great River Energy's desire to move away from lignite coal. He sees natural gas as a "bridge fuel" to other "solid fuel" sources, which, he said, could include farm products.

Both Zueger and Keller indicated there may be developments coming in regard to programs to reward farmers for carbon sequestration efforts. Zueger said discussions remain about how to characterize and certify farm practices that would qualify, but he thinks that will come.

"I think that there's tremendous opportunity," he said.

And on the low-carbon front, Keller said the renewable diesel that will be the end result of the North Dakota soybeans processed at Green Bison for now likely will go to California, though markets are emerging in other states and Canada. He is optimistic the product will be used someday in North Dakota, lowering the carbon footprint by keeping the process close to home.

Jenny Schlecht is the editor of Agweek and Sugarbeet Grower Magazine. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.
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