Construction begins on new soybean processing facility near Mitchell

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:16 PM CDT
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MITCHELL, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As South Dakota’s agricultural industry looks to keep up and grow with international demand. That means new facilities and products are needed. A project kicking off just south of Mitchell is looking to add to the industry with a wide range of products from South Dakota soybeans.

A graded dirt field just off of State Highway 37 south of Mitchell isn’t much at the moment. But soon enough, it will be the home for South Dakota’s newest soybean processing plant.

High Plains Processing’s $500 million facility will look to take in soybeans from producers in South Dakota, and turn it into an array of products. The plant is estimated to be able to process up to 35 million bushels annually, or about one million tons of high-oil content product. The idea for the plant began over two years ago, and has seen it’s price increase while also finding new investors.

“At that time, we presented the idea of a new crush plant, with capabilities to not only do soybeans, but other high-oil content seeds as well,” South Dakota Soybean Processors CEO Tom Kersting said.

High Plains Processing is a subsidiary of South Dakota Soybean Processors, and the plant is being built in partnership with BP Products North America. That high-oil content products is what Kersting said they’re most excited about, as they look to catch on with an energy industry trend of finding new, renewable sources of fuel.

“This is where energy providers are moving towards new forms of energy with much lower carbon intensity. In our case, they are transitioning from oil below ground to make fuels, to above-ground sources, renewable sources like soybean oils and other vegetable oils,” Kersting said.

The plant is planned to be a big player in South Dakota agriculture, with many potential products filling demand here and other places around the globe.

“Of course as we know, businesses don’t exist in isolation. Agriculture is of course one of our top industries that we try to recruit. There are inter-industry and supply chain effects that this project will have an effect on,” Chris Shilken said, Commissioner of South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Governor Kristi Noem also gave a statement at the plant’s groundbreaking, excited about the job opportunities the plant will create. 85 full-time jobs are expected to be created with the plant. The Mitchell Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation is also throwing in their own incentives for folks to move.

“We’re going a little further though. The Mitchell community is offering $1,000 to out-of-state families who are willing to relocate to Mitchell, as long as one family member is working full-time, and they have secured housing in the city of Mitchell,” Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce CEO Geri Beck said.

Construction will continue on for the next couple of years, and plant operations are expected to begin in 2025.