The largest farmer-owned soybean processor in the world, which is based in Omaha, said Tuesday the board has approved a “major expansion” of a plant in Hastings, Neb.
Ag Processing Inc., owned by 176 cooperatives representing more than 250,000 farmers from 15 states, said demand from Asian markets has motivated the expansion in Hastings, about 170 miles west of Omaha.
The plant, the company said, is the western-most U.S. soybean processing plant, where the grain is turned into meal for animal feed and oil for myriad uses. It employs about 145, according to city records.
“The availability and quality of the soybeans in the Hastings area make it an excellent location to increase and improve our soybean processing capacity,” said Cal Meyer, group vice president for processing, refined oils and renewables. “Hastings is ideally positioned to meet growing demand from Pacific Rim markets with Midwest soybeans and soy products.”
Ag Processing said it operates at the port in Grays Harbor, Wash., to serve overseas customers.
Nebraska is the fifth-largest soybean producer, with about 207 million bushels last year, trailing Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Processed soybeans are the world’s largest source of protein-based animal feed, and the second-largest source of vegetable oil, according to the USDA.
The dollar-value of the investment in the Hastings expansion wasn’t disclosed.
Ag Processing said final construction decisions are contingent on negotiations with state and local officials; operations related to the expansion are expected to begin in the fall of 2016, the company said.
“AGP continues to invest in areas that enhance our long-term competitiveness and our overall processing platform,” said Chief Executive Keith Spackler. ”We have had many years of positive operating experience and market conditions at this location, and a strong connection to the community through our employees.”