The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 19, 2012

Canola plant location selected

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Northstar Agri Industries canola-processing plant planned for Enid has found a home east of the city, near Pleasant Vale Elementary School.

The site of the new plan will be at the southeast corner of 66th and Willow, said Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance.

The plant’s anticipated assessed valuation is expected to be $200 million, said Garfield County Assessor Wade Patterson, which would mean it would be valued higher than the Koch Nitrogen plant or AdvancePierre Foods’ Enterprise plant. Kisling said Northstar officials looked at a number of sites.

He said the actual plant will be near the railroad tracks east of 66th and south of Willow. The company plans to build about four miles of railroad spur into the property, along with a storage facility, Kisling said.

Northstar is a subsidiary of PICO Holdings Inc. The plant will be able to process 2,200 tons of canola per day, or 760,000 tons per year. It will include a full refinery capable of annually producing 580 million pounds of food-grade refined canola oil and 450,000 tons of canola meal. Officials said the plant is expected to create 55 permanent full-time jobs with an annual payroll of $3.75 million.

When it was announced in October, company officials said it would be completed before canola harvest in June 2015.

Kisling said Monday canola production will help the area wheat crop, because rotating canola and wheat allows farmers the opportunity to “clean up” their fields and eventually make the soil more fertile.

Wheat in northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas typically has a large amount of foreign material in it, typically types of grasses, he said.

Herbicides that eliminate grasses cannot be used, because wheat is a form of grass and if herbicides are sprayed on the foreign material, it also will kill the wheat, Kisling said.

“The nice thing about canola is they can plant, then spray with Roundup to kill the grasses and still harvest the canola,” Kisling said.

Kisling said most people rotate wheat with canola about every third year: Two years of wheat are planted to a year of canola. In addition to cleaning up foreign material, he said canola features a tap root system that goes straight down, as opposed to grass’s finger-type root system. By going straight down, it makes the crop more drought tolerant and breaks up the ground deeper to allow for more fertile soil.

“The addition of a value-added canola processing plant in Oklahoma will provide regional farmers with a much-needed local market to support continued acreage growth,” Kisling said. “I believe winter canola production is a game-changer for Oklahoma agriculture, providing a much-needed rotation crop, improving winter wheat yields and quality while increasing and diversifying farm income.”

Enid City Commission has voted to create a Tax Increment Finance District Review Committee for the project.

A TIF district establishes an area in which increased ad valorem taxes will be delayed for a specific period of time. The funds would be used to defray the costs of project development. Tax-receiving agencies continue to receive taxes at the current ad valorem rate until expiration of the TIF, at which point ad valorem taxes are paid out based on project improvements.