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South Dakota

New processors to reshape North Dakota’s export-focused soy sector

By Karl Feder

SPIRITWOOD, North Dakota (Reuters) – North Dakota’s soybean trade is on the forefront of what may very well be a once-in-a-generation transformation within the coming years, with two new processing crops scheduled to open in 2023 and 2024 , to meet the rising home biofuel manufacturing.

U.S. soybean processing capability might improve by as a lot as 30% over the following 4 years, with greater than a dozen new amenities or expansions deliberate as a part of a nationwide wave of funding in processing the highest U.S. export crop, primarily to provide Vegetable oil for producers of renewable diesel.

The surge would upend conventional commerce flows as exports of entire soybeans to markets like China give approach to stronger home demand and larger international shipments of soy flour, a product China doesn’t usually import.

Nowhere will this shift be extra evident than in North Dakota, the fourth-largest US soybean state by acreage, which ships about 70% of its high-protein oilseed crop to China yearly. Instead, the brand new amenities will likely be in a position to course of half of the state’s soybean crop into oil for biofuel and flour for animal feed.

Although China has imported extra U.S. soybeans this yr after a less-than-expected 2022 South American harvest, the world’s largest soybean purchaser has more and more relied on Brazil to meet its soybean wants lately.

Meanwhile, US biofuel makers are wanting to extra vegetable oils, like soybean oil, to make renewable diesel as demand for lower-carbon fuels will increase.

But progress in soy meal demand has lagged, suggesting a glut in feed elements if markets do not develop.


Weather-beaten concrete grain elevators tower over the tiny city of Spiritwood, which sits on the mainline of the BNSF Railway that connects North Dakota’s farms to the export terminals of the United States’ Pacific Northwest.

Here, world grain dealer Archer-Daniels-Midland and Marathon Oil are constructing a $350 million milling facility the place a barley malt manufacturing facility as soon as stood. Green Bison Soy Processing LLC’s facility is scheduled to open in late 2023.

The crusher will supply soybeans from farmers inside 60 miles in every route, mentioned Mike Keller, vice chairman at ADM.

It might additionally immediate growers to plant extra oilseeds as a substitute of crops like wheat and barley, and alter advertising plans for the state’s crop and grain flows, farmers and analysts mentioned.

Monte Peterson, a farmer in Valley City, about 25 miles from Spiritwood, expects to inventory extra soybeans on the farm after the power opens and schedule gross sales selectively, quite than transport all of them out at harvest time, when costs are usually decrease are.

“As crush capacity builds here, growers will stockpile more soybeans to ship 12 months of the year,” Peterson mentioned.

All soybean oil produced at Spiritwood is shipped to a Marathon facility in Dickinson 200 miles west to produce renewable diesel, a lower-carbon biofuel that can be utilized interchangeably with petroleum-based diesel.

The final vacation spot for soy flour is much less sure. ADM mentioned this summer season that it’s initially concentrating on livestock and poultry producers within the area and expects exports to improve within the coming years. Trade missions from the US Department of Agriculture and trade teams have focused some consumers, however rising markets will take time.

Exporters will look to increase gross sales to Southeast Asia and Europe, probably crowding out provides from prime provider Argentina in markets like Australia and New Zealand, mentioned John Baize, president of consulting agency John C. Baize & Associates.


US grain exports have been reaching world consumers by terminals on the Gulf Coast and Pacific Northwest for many years.

But many of the current export amenities there have been constructed to ship dry entire grains, unprocessed merchandise like soy flour, which might clog grain-handling tools.

Some Gulf Coast exporters use smaller mid-river rigs that unload barges immediately onto ocean-going vessels.

A meal-focused terminal on the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington, owned by agricultural cooperative AG Processing Inc (AGP), is working to double its export capability to 6 million tons yearly by 2025.

The US Maritime Administration final month authorised a $25.5 million infrastructure grant to develop the export terminal. US soybean growers and trade teams pledged a further $1.3 million to assist offset design and growth prices.

“AGP’s Grays Harbor expansion project is arguably the most immediate opportunity for soybean farmers to meet the need for increased soybean meal export capacity,” mentioned Mike Steenhoek, govt director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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