AGP soybean plant to open soon, currently running tests

Erin Ballard

While there’s been some recent activity on the northeast edge of town, the new Ag Processing Inc. plant is not quite open for business.

The soybean processing plant, commonly called AGP, is in the final stages of development but is not currently processing, according to Matt Caswell, AGP vice president of member/corporate relations and government affairs.

AGP broke ground at 4815 Eighth Ave. NE near County Road 14 in November 2015. The plant will crush 45 million to 50 million bushels of soybeans annually and employ 50 to 55 people.

Truckloads of soybeans have been coming in and out of the plant for tests for about four weeks now, Caswell said. Bins are currently being filled with soybeans to test their load-bearing capacity.

“When you construct a new bin, there’s a process to make sure it settles correctly,” he said. “So far, everything is working as planned.”

Other finishing touches currently underway include installing computer systems and testing conveyor belts. All major infrastructure has already been completed, Caswell said.

The plant should begin processing soybeans sometime later this summer. While a final estimate on the cost of the project will not be known until construction is complete, previously reported estimates are more or less correct, he said.

AGP’s CEO Keith Spackler said during a December 2015 news conference that Aberdeen’s soybean processing plant would be the largest single investment in the company’s history. Former Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen said in April 2017 that the plant will be the biggest economic development project in city history.

Here are the costs of some of the biggest economic development projects from the region in recent years:

• The former Northern Beef Packers plant cost roughly $115 million, according to some estimates made after it was built.

Redfield Energy, which began operating in 2007, was expected to cost $73.3 million to build, according to American News archives.

James Valley Ethanol built its ethanol plant west of Groton for $57 million. It opened in 2003.

• In 2013, NorthWestern Energy built a $55 million power plant south of Aberdeen. The cost was $10 million less than the original estimated cost of $65 million.

Molded Fiber Glass was built by the Aberdeen Development Corp. for about $21 million. Including expenses paid by the company, the plant cost about $40 million. Molded Fiber Glass opened in 2008.

A private, invite-only grand opening event is planned for later this month at AGP.

The AGP plant in Aberdeen is on track to handle soybeans from area farmers this fall.