Co-op sets $27 million expansion
By KRISS NELSON
RALSTON – West Central Cooperative announced on June 3 a $27 million expansion to the company’s SoyPlus production facility in Ralston.
“This is a significant moment for West Central and a significant moment for our SoyPlus product,” said Milan Kucerak, president and chief executive officer of West Central.
Mark Cullen, executive vice president of animal nutrition, said development will expand soybean processing capacity by 50 percent, as well as add additional grain storage to the Ralston location.
Cullen said the project will add 11 new jobs and will require the soybeans from 400,000 acres when completed in the early fall of 2016.
Alicia Clancy, director of communications, said the company will be looking to Webster, Calhoun and Greene counties, among others, as sources for the needed soybeans.
“Soybean growers are the foundation of this product,” said Cullen. “This new revenue opportunity will allow us to continue to grow and expand our business,”
Grant Kimberley, director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association, said the livestock industry is the largest customer for the soybean producer, and expansions like West Central’s increases the demand and value to Iowa’s soybeans.
Mike Naig, deputy secretary of agriculture, congratulated “the West Central team and the cooperative’s farmers/owners on making this great investment.”
The $27 million investment, Naig said, is just an addition to the significant footprint West Central has had in Iowa.
“This will provide good solid jobs,” Naig said. “An investment like this is why Iowa will continue to lead globally.
“Innovation is what will allow us to thrive as a global leader in agriculture.”
Randy Daniel, soy production manager for West Central, said the expansion should be up and running by August or September 2016.
“We have been running at capacity for a year and half now,” Daniel said. “We have an excellent staff and make a superior product. It is really neat to be involved with this expansion.”
When complete, Daniel said, the Ralston facility will be crushing 75,000 bushels of soybeans daily- equal to 1,800 tons daily.
“That is just phenomenal,” said Daniel.
Currently, the plant is crushing 50,000 bushels of soybeans, or about 1,200 tons, a day.
As a farmer-owned cooperative, West Central originates soybeans from more than a dozen counties in western Iowa and at full capacity. The SoyPlus expansion will create a demand for an addition 6 million bushels of soybeans per year.
The soybeans are processed, Daniel said, through a mechanical press plant.
“It’s an all-natural process. They are physically pressed out,” he said. “They are cleaned, cracked, heated, oil is extracted, oil is refined and then there is a further processing of the meal.”
The plant runs 24 hours, seven days a week. The automatic functions of the plant result in a more consistent product, Daniel said.
He said 80 percent of the facility’s product is shipped by rail. After the expanded plant is in full production, he predicted 100 percent of the product will be shipped by rail.
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