Cargill to Expand Oilseed Processing Plant in North Dakota
09/21/2011 — According to the U.S. Canola Association, the Northern Plains of North Dakota and Minnesota currently account for about 90 percent of roughly 1.5 million canola acres planted in the United States. Sunflowers are also an important agriculturl crop for the Dakotas, according to The National Sunflower Association. Both organizations, as well as regional residents, were likely excited by this week's announcement from seed oil processor, Cargill. In a widely distributed press release, the company announced that they will be constructing an expanded oilseed processing plant in West Fargo, N.D. Specifically, Cargill's current West Fargo facility processes canola and sunflower seeds into edible oil for food processing and foodservice businesses. (The facility also processes flaxseed for linseed oil for industrial use, and protein meal for animal feed.)
The project to rebuild the plant comes with a cost estimated at over $50 million. Construction is expected to start later this year and engineering plans for the facility are being finalized. Jaysen Shock, Facility Manager for Cargill said “The existing facility has served us well since we built it 30 years ago, and we are now looking at rebuilding it to meet the needs of our customers for the next 30 years.”
The new facility is expected to open in time for the 2013 harvest and, according to Shock, the number of full-time jobs at the new facility will remain close to today's 83 positions. However "the project will keep the facility as a viable business (for) many years ahead.” Schock continued, “The investment reflects the hard work of our West Fargo team and shows our commitment to the West Fargo area and our farmer and elevator suppliers.”
State and local officials offered their own spin on Cargill's decision. Governor Jack Dalrymple said that Cargill’s “decision to rebuild and expand its West Fargo oilseed processing plant reaffirms the company’s long-term commitment to North Dakota growers and the region’s workforce. He noted that Cargill currently employs about 530 people at five facilities throughout the state. “The company’s expansion shows once again that a positive business climate is key to attracting and retaining business and in turn, growing our economy,” Dalrymple said.
West Fargo Mayor Richard Mattern said: “As a city, we are very pleased that Cargill has made a commitment to grow with us. Many of the Cargill employees and the company have been involved with volunteerism and have become West Fargo community leaders. We look forward to the continuing growth of a great West Fargo company.”
The facility processes canola and sunflower seeds into edible oil for food processing and foodservice businesses, flaxseed for linseed oil for industrial use, and protein meal for animal feed.
The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC), along with the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the West Fargo Economic Development Association (EDA) worked closely with Cargill’s local leaders on this expansion. “We are grateful for their contribution and their continued dedication to our regional economy,” said Kevin McKinnon, GFMEDC President.
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