$300M soybean plant will process 50-million bushels annually

Erin Ballard

Within days, the new soybean processing plant on the northeast edge of town will be up and running.

Ag Processing Inc., commonly called AGP, had its grand opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon, and more than 300 people gathered to celebrate and discuss the impact of the plant on the community, state, nation and world.

The plant currently has 4.2 million bushels of soybeans in storage — that’s maximum capacity. Workers have been doing tests recently to ensure everything runs smoothly when they’re given the green light to process.

At its existing nine facilities in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Missouri, AGP processes a combined 285 million bushels of soybeans annually, CEO Keith Spackler said in an address to the crowd.

The Aberdeen plant is the largest project in the company’s history, at nearly $300 million, he said. It aims to send out 50 million to 60 million bushels annually, which equates to about 1.2 million acres of soybeans from South Dakota.

Spackler said the goal of AGP is to provide markets for producers of soybeans, add value to those soybeans and generate competitive return for cooperative owners and producers. The local plant will work with 145 farmer- owned co-ops across the Midwest, he said.

“AGP has had its eyes on the Dakotas for a long time,” he said. “This project and community is a great fit for that mission.”

“(Wednesday) is certainly an exciting day for all of us at AGP,” board chairman Brad Davis said. “A day when an idea, a vision, and what some may even call a dream, ultimately took root here in Aberdeen and grew into what surrounds us today.”

Gov. Kristi Noem made an appearance at the grand opening and spoke for a few minutes about the global importance of such a large plant in the region.

“This is a really big deal. We can’t underline that enough, what this means to the state of South Dakota,” she said. “The day we let another country grow our food for us is the day they control us. So let’s never forget the broad umbrella that this opportunity and this plant will provide for us, is that it stabilizes our entire country and our standing in the world.”

Noem said the economic impact of agriculture in South Dakota was $32.5 billion this year, up from $25.6 billion in 2016. That’s a testament to the future of the state’s agriculture industry, she said.

“Every policy that goes through my office, everything we dedicate our time to, is in setting up an environment for our kids and our grandkids to stay right here in South Dakota and to be successful and fulfill all their dreams,” she said. “Projects like this get me excited. This is what I want to continue to see across the state.”

Prominent community members among the crowd included Aberdeen Mayor Travis Schaunaman, Northern State University President Tim Downs, Aberdeen Development Corp. CEO Mike Bockorny, former Mayor Mike Levsen and a handful of state legislators. State Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman and state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg were also in attendance, as well as representatives from the state’s congressional delegation.

Joshua Kruse, plant superintendent at AGP Aberdeen, talks about the processes at various buildings at the plant. Farm Forum photo by Erin Ballard
Gov. Kristi Noem spoke at AGP’s grand opening on July 17 in Aberdeen. Farm Forum photo by Erin Ballard

The headline in this story has been corrected to reflect the accurate number of soybeans that will be processed in Aberdeen.