South Dakota Soybean Processors' to build third soybean crush plant in Mitchell

Dominik Dausch
Farm Forum
South Dakota Soybean Processors showcase three aerial view renderings of their third soybean crush plant to be built just south of Mitchell during a Davison County Board of Adjustment hearing Tuesday, July 12, 2022. SDSP operates two other crush plants near Volga and St. Lawrence.

MITCHELL — After hours of discussion between Davison County Planning Commission, South Dakota Soybean Processors, local farmers and residents of Mitchell, the county approved a conditional use permit for the processor to build a $500 million soybean crushing plant on Tuesday.

The crush plant, which will be located two miles south of Highway 37 in Mitchell, will be able to crush upward of 35 million bushels of soybean per year, according to Tom Kersting, CEO of SDSP, generating around 850,000 tons of sunflower seed oils in the same period.

He added the plant will create 50-85 jobs, complete with competitive wages and full benefit packages, to the area.

Kersting said there are multiple strong market opportunities at play that would make the facility profitable: there is a strong demand for seed oil as a renewable energy and fuel source, which creates a large deficit in vegetable oil and leaves sunflower seed oil in an excellent position to capitalize on the demand.

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Farmers who commented during the Tuesday Board of Adjustment hearing, which was held at the Davison County Fairgrounds, unanimously approved of the construction of the plant. Many said the plant would greatly benefit agriculture in the region and generate large amounts of revenue for Mitchell and surrounding communities.

Some Mitchell residents, however, remained critical of the crush plant, saying it would create safety risks for people driving in the area due to the increased traffic, as well as breathing hazards from dust kicked up by the influx of activity.

Bob Weiss of Mitchell emotionally addressed the commissioners, expressing concern for his daughters who recently earned their driver's licenses and would have to navigate traffic around the plant.

A close-up of a rendering of South Dakota Soybean Processors soybean crush plant slated to be built south of Mitchell.

Jay Peppel, Mitchell area engineer with the South Dakota Department of Transportation, spoke at the hearing. He said a traffic risk study is currently underway — its completion is required before construction can be started — which will be facilitated by the DOT, a neutral party in the process.

Construction on the plant is expected to start in Fall 2023 and complete in Summer 2025.

Dominik Dausch is the agriculture and environment reporter for the Argus Leader and editor of Farm Forum. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @DomDNP and send news tips to ddausch@gannett.com.