The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 14, 2013

Consultant briefs Rotarians on canola plant plans

ENID, Okla. — Northstar Agri Industries officials expect the production of canola in the Enid area to almost triple once a new processing plant is operating here in 2015.

Clarence Leschied, business development consultant for Northstar Agri Industries, told Enid Rotary Club members Monday the Enid plant will be twice the size of the company’s first plant in northwestern Minnesota.

The plant will be built on 340 acres between 66th and 78th east of the city.

Plant construction will cost an estimated $200 million, Leschied said, and the site will have a 5-mile railroad loop. The company will employ 55 people with an estimated $3.75 million annual payroll. Top management personnel probably will be experts in canola operations, Leschied said, and will be brought in from other canola operations.

The company has contacted Autry Technology Center to provide training for additional employees, and also will use Northern Oklahoma College. Area grain elevators will be a key ingredient of their success, Leschied said.

The Enid plant annually will be able to process 28 million bushels of canola, creating 580 million pounds of food-grade oil, Leschied said.

“We need winter canola. Enid is at the center of the area we will draw from,” he said.

He presented a slide program that shows the United States consumes 7-8 million acres of canola each year, but only produces between 1.2 million and 1.7 million acres. The rest is imported from Canada. If the U.S. increases the amount of canola it produces, the price will not decrease, Leschied said, because Canadian canola would be sent as far away as China.

Leschied said the benefits of using canola include weed and disease control in fields, as well as being more profitable than wheat.

He said there currently are more than 200,000 acres of canola in production in the focus area, which is the Enid area, and the amount planted in canola can be raised to 750,000 to 1 million acres.

Northstar looked at many locations and chose Enid for a number of reasons, including incentives provided by the city of Enid. A Tax Increment Finance district agreement, which will help the company with construction costs, critical to the plant.

The plant will use about 500,000 gallons of water a day when in full production. It cannot use treated water — so-called “gray water” — from the city, because the water is used to make a food product, and company officials would be concerned about sanitation, Leschied said.

“The city of Enid Engineering Department has told us they can supply the water,” Leschied said.

The plant will produce canola oil and canola meal. It will waste nothing, Leschied said, and items that remain are made into byproducts, like soap base, and sold to other companies. Land O’Lakes contracts for a large amount of canola, he said.

Ground-breaking is expected to occur in August or September, with construction to take 16 to 18 months.

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