The Board of Directors of Ag Processing Inc (AGP), a cooperative, headquartered in Omaha, has approved the construction of a new soy biodiesel plant in St. Joseph, Missouri. The facility is scheduled to become operational in the fall of 2007.
It will be located at the AGP industrial site where the cooperative currently operates a soybean crushing plant and a vegetable oil refinery. The plant will produce 28 million gallons of soy biodiesel annually and employ approximately 24 people. Construction will commence upon completion of all appropriate permits and
“Our mission is to serve our local cooperative members and their producer owners through value-added processing,” stated Marty Reagan, CEO. “This project reflects our strategic direction and our strong commitment to renewable fuels while at the same time adding value back to Missouri producers soybean crop.”
“We commend Governor Blunt, the Missouri Legislature, and the Department of Economic Development for all their support and assistance with this project,” said Cal Meyer, Group Vice President, Processing, Refined Vegetable Oils, and Industrial Products. “Expanding renewable fuels helps our nation become less dependent on foreign oil and strengthens Midwestern agriculture and communities.”
Congressman Sam Graves, U.S. Representative for the St. Joseph area, stated: “With the addition of this biodiesel plant, Missouri will now play an even greater role in making America more energy independent. We must continue to develop alternative fuels which are good for farmers, good for consumers and good for the environment.”
Missouri State Senator Charlie Shields added: “The new biodiesel plant in St. Joseph is great news, not only for the St. Joseph area, but for the entire state. I appreciate all the hard work that went into making this project happen and look forward to the economic and environmental benefits that will come from this new plant.”
AGP is a long-time leader in the renewable fuels industry, being the first company in the United States to construct a purpose-built biodiesel plant in 1996. That plant, located at Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, has been in continuous operation ever since. Capacity at the plant has expanded as the market for soy biodiesel has grown. With the new plant at St. Joseph and expanded production planned at Sergeant Bluff, AGP will be able to produce over 55 million gallons of soy biodiesel. AGP has marketed its SoyGold Ù (www.soygold.com) brand biodiesel to customers serving the farm and fleet markets for nearly a decade. The company has also marketed ethanol for more than a decade from its corn processing plant located in Hastings, Nebraska.
“AGP is truly one of the pioneers in the biodiesel industry,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), Jefferson City, Missouri. “They were the first major biodiesel plant in the country, and they have continued to help grow this industry to where it is today. As a farmer-led agricultural cooperative and a long-standing member of NBB, we are thrilled to see AGP expand its biodiesel operations once again. AGP’s new plant will be good for Missouri, good for the biodiesel industry, and good for AmericaÌs farmers.”
The addition of a new soy biodiesel plant is the second major project for AGP’s industrial site in St. Joseph. Last November, the cooperative announced that it will be expanding and upgrading its soy processing plant. The multi-million dollar investment includes installation of new processing equipment, additional soybean storage capacity, expanded rail siding, and upgrades to the truck unloading facilities. The project will increase crush capacity by 60 percent (to 120,000 bushels per day) making the St. Joseph plant one of the largest of the AGP soybean processing plants located throughout the Midwest.
“The decision by Ag Processing to make these significant investments in St Joseph will strengthen the company’s presence in the community, provide high quality jobs for our residents and put AGP and St. Joseph at the forefront of the soybean processing and alternative fuels industry,” said Mayor David Jones. AGP thanked the Mayor and local government officials, and the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce, led by Patt Lilly, for their support and assistance in the two projects. Harold Spire, General Manager, Consumers Oil Company (an AGP member cooperative), Maryville, Missouri, said “AGP introduced biodiesel to the state of Missouri. We got in the business due to their efforts.”
“AGP was the first company to really step up to the plate on biodiesel,” commented Kenlon Johannes, former Executive Director of the Missouri Soybean Association and Soydiesel Development Board (now the National Biodiesel Board). “I don’t think we would be where we are today without the dedication of their cooperative.” Johannes is now serving as the CEO of the Kansas Soybean Association.
Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association (ASA), noted that “AGP has financed the effort in Washington for over a decade. When no other company wanted to fund our legal and legislative efforts, AGP led the way.”
One of AGP’s early efforts was to introduce biodiesel to the low blend (2 percent) farm market. Tom Verry, Director of Outreach and Development, NBB, explained that AGP worked with Farmland Industries by setting up ten low blend demonstration sites at local cooperatives throughout the Midwest. “The response was overwhelming and led us to the conclusion that farmers could lead the market opening efforts through low blend use in their own equipment.”
Another little known biodiesel historical fact is that AGP supplied the fuel for which all biodiesel is cleared for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Steve Howell, Technical Director for the NBB, said, “We needed a supplier we could count on for high quality and consistency. If we had problems with the EPA health effects testing, the industry could have been set back for years. The biodiesel from AGP, which was made from soybean oil, came through as usual and the rest is history.”